Paint a black hole, blacker…

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What are the ingredients for a bad day? It could be a multitude of things. Time constraints. Children. Money. A nagging spouse. A demanding boss. A professor who sucks at teaching. The list goes on. As humans, were genetically predisposed to feeling the emotional backlash brought on by good days and bad days. That’s life. Not everyday will be peachy, and that’s okay. It teaches us how to adapt to the unpredictable nature of life. It teaches us to tap into our inner strength and exercise more patience, while humbling us all the the while . Whenever a friend calls me complaining of their bad day and what caused it, I lend an ear, offering up some advice. But I never forget to tell them, “It’s in your hands, you can choose to continue wallowing in that black hole or you can look around, remind yourself of all the good surrounding you.” Sometimes this statement is much easier said than done.  But I know it best because it’s something I had to teach myself, working through the tarnish and then though a lot of polishing, learning to practice a more beautiful outlook. To wake the deepest layer of the subconscious and realize that you always had the power to control your emotions better than you thought you did is a most pleasant surprise.

I used to think that if I had a bad day, it was bad because of things that happened that day. Example bad day:

  • Late for class
  • Professor prohibits me from taking quiz because I’m late. Lose points. Great.
  • Lunchtime: they screw up my order. Wow.
  • Someone opens their car door and hits my car in the process. Double wow.
  • Traffic jam on way back to class. Am I really gonna be late again? Damn…
  • Trip on uneven concrete and snap sandal. Win.
  • Go home to find my window is leaking, carpet wet. Sigh…

And while unlucky circumstances are definitely ingredients to a bad day, I soon realized that it was indeed me who made it seem that much worse, starting with my despondent attitude.

So I changed it. Testing myself with regard to controlling my own attitude.

Life’s got plenty of tests waiting for you; self-actualization at its best. Testing your strength.  Testing your patience. Testing your morality. Testing your confidence. Testing your humility. Testing your love. Testing your disposition. Testing, testing, testing. Always seeing just how much we can give of ourselves mentally and physically to trudge on day by day. But the thing I realized through growth, is just how much control we have over the outcome of our day. We can decide for ourselves what kind of day it will be despite those inconvenient curveballs.

Look around, you’ve got your health, your family, your friends, even your loyal pet lab who’s always ecstatic to see you walk through the door. These are small tokens of gratitude that are so often overlooked by many.

We possess more control over the context of our day that we let on. Many people fail to make this connection. They get lost in the negativity that transpired that day and unknowingly sulk in that black hole of unhappiness. Some at their worst do it for days. They become melancholic sloths of listless, emotional apathy. But there’s so much they could do to better their mood. They can choose to let these things envelop them, taken for hostage within that black hole, or they can choose the latter.

I think I’ll choose the latter.

The beauty of living is that each day holds new opportunity, another chance waiting for you to take life by the hand and assess things. So will you continue to wander aimlessly through that black hole and paint it blacker, or will you take control with how you’re feeling? When a slew of negative thoughts comes on, I remind myself of how much beauty there is to life. And there’s beauty even in the negative. It gives us lessons, and without these lessons we would be more inclined to take things for granted, forget an otherwise humble existence and forget about modesty, leading us astray into the self-destruction of our own temperament.

In extreme cases of melancholy, I look to nature for solace. Never underestimate what a quiet walk on a forest trail can do for your thoughts, assisting you in the rationalization of things. Or a solo trip to the beach in the evening, getting lost in the receding tide, filling your lungs with the salty air and defragmenting the day.

And while some would prefer to confide in their friends about whatever went wrong that day, there’s something so welcoming about the environment, having a seemingly open door policy to our emotions. Offering a plethora of wide open spaces where one can vent, daydream, hibernate;  maybe for hours or just a little while.

Next time you feel that black hole coming on, don’t paint it blacker. The beauty to life is that it’s ever changing, evolving and with each new day, commencing some new idea or inviting you to embark on a new task. So take life in stride, take the good with the bad, the ups and downs. It’s all about adaptation.

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What I learned from having roommates

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Ah, roommates…

So I feel like that dreary nine month period in which I shared my life with roommates deserves a proper blog post. Mainly because of the strange going-ons that I experienced on a daily basis. I moved in with people who I didn’t know  in an effort to save money and pay down debt. Happy to report that the debts are now alleviated but during that time, it was one hell of a ride. Living with other people taught me many things but above all, the big one that stood out was, you really learn about a person from how they keep their living space. It wasn’t before long where I came off as the OCD neat freak of the house. I’ve always been one who with age, kind of fell into an AM routine and had an ingrained need for order and cleanliness. See below:

  • Wake, wash face
  • Brew coffee
  • Make bed
  • Pick up anything strewn on the floor
  • Check laundry; throw in a load if needed
  • Unload dishwasher if needed, etc. etc…

Apparently my roommates didn’t share the same ideology as I. Our respective rooms, without any effort, were like night and day. Mine, neat and orderly, art on the walls and photos of friends and family. I even had flowerpots adorning my side of the deck. And the roommates? Many times their rooms looked like a tornado hit, littered with cups, dishes and leftover Chinese takeout. Piles of laundry beckoned to get done. There was seemingly no order, no structure. Laziness seemed to be the name of their game.

Without trying to sound like a complete bitch, I just didn’t quite grasp how people couldn’t take their butt from the couch and pick up after themselves. We’ve all seen them: you know, the kind that leave little trails around the house. Trails of half full cups, crumbs scattered about, a skillet from like, two days ago. Yea those were my roommates. It’s not that I’m allergic to roommates, I’m allergic to slob roommates. Yea. That’s it.

So, partly to recount my time there and partly for your comic relief, below I’ve highlighted some memorable weird and head scratching moments from my nine month stint with those people. The roommates.

  • L. was blatantly unaware of her menacing hairball left in the bottom of the shower every time she exited. Initially,I would grab it and stash it in the trash. Then, it got old. One day I finally spoke up, reminded her to be considerate since we both shared that bathroom. It seemed to work for a bit, then she fell into her old slob habits once again. I took her hairball and slathered it on the side of the tub for her to see the following morning, 6:00 am sharp. 🙂 It never happened again.
  • The spice cabinet in the kitchen was always stocked. I tend to cook many things with olive oil. The roommates followed that trend. Only thing was, when they used the olive oil they never replaced it. Never offered to buy new. Just take, take, take. So like a parent does with a child, I took the toy away. Yes, I hid olive oil in my room. I was an olive oil sleuth. And guess what, it worked after like two months of no olive oil.
  • Toilet paper; paper towels. Necessities of a household right? The roommates and I took turns with these purchases. Then, chronic laziness set in. It took like, forever to restock. Seriously. We were out of paper towels for a straight month one time. Many trips to the grocery store, I was tempted to pick some up but then thought, what’s the point? Toilet paper also took forever. I bought my own but eventually burrowed that in my room too, curious to see how long it took before they realized they had nothing to wipe their behinds with.
  • If I dirtied a dish, I took it down and washed it. It didn’t get the opportunity to stand idle in my room for hours let alone days. My roommate J. apparently found it too difficult to walk his dishes down to the sink and wash them. One day while emptying the dishwasher, I noticed there was next to nothing left. No cups, very few dishes and one bowl. Pffft. He didn’t start taking his dishes down promptly until someone pointed out there was no dishes left. Really?
  • To make matters worse with the dishes, many times they weren’t even washed thoroughly. I would grab a spoon and it was greasy. Or there would be cemented food  on a bowl because someone was too lazy to exert some elbow grease in there. It was maddening. One day, while unloading the dishwasher and putting the washed items away, I threw all the dirty, greasy dishes in the sink, and left them there out of frustration. I wasn’t about to wash someone else’s dishes; these were people in their twenties, fully capable of washing dishes. Or so I thought…
  • When it came to laundry, B. didn’t understand why her whites had a bland pink cast to them. I told her “Separate whites, reds and darks and that won’t happen.”  B. always threw everything in there like a jumbled colorful soiled mess. She nodded and said, “Ohhhhh…” Yea; you gotta be smarter than the washing machine darling.
  • The refrigerator was separated into respective sections for our own food. My groceries were on the bottom, L.’s in the middle, and so on. I began to notice my milk would be opened, or my three pack of New York strips were down to one; a stick of butter missing…I didn’t say anything but started to label my food. This seemed to ease the confusion. As if people can’t differentiate between the bottom shelf and the top? I guess that was too hard.
  • On occasion, L. would dog-sit a tiny, yapping Chihuahua. The most useless dog I’ve ever seen. Anyway, the dog wasn’t potty trained and emptied out his bowels or bladder wherever he so pleased. Problem was, when L. went to clean up after the dog, she would simply wet a washcloth and that was all. No Lysol, no Resolve, no actual cleaning agents. Hello! Poop carries bacteria! Ewwwww!
  • B. didn’t have a nightstand. Out of the kindness of my heart, I let her borrow my pastel green wooden table for a stand-in. Key word: borrow. One day while distributing mail, I see a nice sticker placed on my table. I get pissed. It would’ve been different if I had actually given her the table but that wasn’t the case. I ask her about the sticker, she plays dumb, doesn’t even apologize about defacing the table. Her boyfriend later peeled it off, throwing his hands up in the air exclaiming how it wasn’t the end of the world and how I shouldn’t have made such a big deal about it. But I honestly didn’t feel like I did. I felt it just had to do with common sense, it’s not your property so don’t deface it. But then I realized I was dealing with some truly immature individuals and this is why they could never understand my frustration. A few months after that last episode, I promptly gathered my things and moved out, never looking back.

So was there any contact following my much anticipated move? You can bet your ass not. I can now look back on the time with the roommates and laugh, but it was anything but a laughing matter the whole time I lived there. Frustration, anger, disbelief. I was otherwise living with people who had no clue what cleanliness, respect or consideration meant. I often times felt like I was too mature to even live there. If anything good came of it, it was definitely a learning experience. Without suggesting people have to do as Camille does, it just showed me that I just don’t mesh well with slobs. Point blank. If you’re a slob, stay away from Camille. Far, far away. Thanks.

The Rut

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Life...

The dreaded rut. All of us make a visit to it at some point in our lives, sometimes more than once. It could be a creativity rut, relationship rut, career rut…or a rut that is all encompassing, accompanied by an incomplete feeling, having climbed the mountain but still having yet to reach the top…meet Camille, she’s 27 and just experienced her first real, rut (shake hands).

My rut, if you will, was more all encompassing. Having been out of touch on the blog  for quite sometime, that was the first clue that something was incomplete for me. Because this, this is my space; to vent, to wonder, to live, to just, be…in addition to other outlets (art, creating things, working out) there were a lot of things that just, seemingly, came to a halt. A big one would be my relationship.

Relationships. Marriage. Romance. I guess I’ve always held a more nontraditional rationale toward these things than my fellow female peers. I was never one who was in a hurry to begin my life with my undisclosed Prince Charming, marry, and pop out some babies. I was always content on my own path, always discovering myself, never tiring of that task…

With these things being said, the crumble of my almost 2 year relationship to Martin was a sad break, but not a surprising one. We as humans, mentally, are equipped with this little thing called intuition. Certain situations in life, intuition is called upon to help us figure out how to deal; to look at things through a deeper scope. The mind is a powerful thing; it can either foolishly convince you that you’re feeling something or shout out with alarm, that you’re truly not feeling something. Couple this with far too many loose ends, and you’ve got the fall of Martin and I.

I’m not going to take this post as an opportunity to bash him, but there were just, far too many things that just never came full circle and his unwillingness to take the initiative to improve these things. Also, a quite peculiar tidbit: there were no ‘I love you’s’. Not even when we lived together. Initially I, being one who doesn’t fall in love easily, didn’t think much of this. But the more and more I thought about it and also through some exchange with friends, I saw how truly odd this was. Here I was, sleeping next to, eating dinners with, taking trips with this man, who I really was unsure of my feelings for. I knew that I sincerely enjoyed my time with him and deeply cared for him, and that there was definitely no shortage of affection; but did I love him? I felt that, by the two year mark I should have known if I did or didn’t.

Without making it sound like it was all on him, I myself had some quirks. Martin’s quiet, passive way sometimes collided with my chatty and excitable Gemini-like nature. I’ve always been one who’s an advocate of speaking up when something isn’t right; Martin is sometimes too laid back with things. Case in point: my many differences with the roommates on cleanliness. Times where I’d go down to grab a dish to make some food, and it was greasy, or there was buildup still attached to it. I was thoroughly disgusted, thinking, What the hell, these people are in their twenties and can’t even wash a dish properly? Really? Martin many times would remind me, “Oh it’s not that big of a deal; just wash them again.” Wait. What? Or, “People are different, you have to make sacrifices.” While yes, I agree with this statement, I also believe that when sharing a common living area, there must be some ground rules, no? If not, then everyone is free to throw to the wind as they may, this resulting in a collision of beliefs on what is acceptable/unacceptable. Many times, our conversation would be poked with long, awkward silences. Sometimes the conversation was just so…dull. I sometimes found myself getting along better in conversation with male friends, but not my boyfriend. Hmmmm. In the end, I found myself turned off, and not truly in love. I enjoyed my time with him, the memories vivid and happy ones, but I increasingly felt like the relationship had run its course. I was unafraid to go on alone, that’s how I knew it was indeed done, when I didn’t even feel the need to try anymore, I was just so…disconnected.

In addition to the shortcomings in my relationship, I began to feel myself slip into a somewhat understimulated state. My eating habits took a dive, my appetite in hibernation mode. I had the occasional crying spell. I wouldn’t describe myself as depressed but more or less disenchanted. I stopped taking photographs, took a hiatus from modeling, stopped blogging, stopped delving into my artsy side and creating things, even slacked off on my workouts at the beach. Hell, my own birthday, which hit on June 19, went by without the usual dinner and bar hop with friends. With the exception of having the traditional cake and ice cream with the family, that was the extent of my 27th birthday festivities. Things were just so…drab. And I wasn’t a fan.

But, aren’t you the master of your own domain? Aren’t you the controller of your thoughts and mood? This axiom is one that I’ve learned over my twenties with much trial and error. In adolescence, due to that pesky surge of hormones coupled with that awkward coming of age time in your life, you let your thoughts control you. In your early twenties, you begin to grow mentally, recanting the stupid things you did in your youth and (hopefully) learning from those; you mature. By your mid to late twenties,  you’re a little more polished, realizing that it’s indeed you who are in control. No one else. So  I pulled myself up out of this aforementioned rut, looked myself in the mirror and reminded myself that, everyday holds promise, paving the way for new opportunities. So I could choose to be melodramatic and sulk, or I could carry on with life. So I asked myself, What kind of day will I have today? It’s ultimately in your own hands.

AND LEST WE FORGET ABOUT THE MOVE…

Wow, I feel like I’ve got so much to catch up on. Within the last two months, I also moved into my own pad (happy dance!). I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love, love, love waking up in my own spot, the quiet and empty mornings, the freedom to strut in my skivvies if I just so please. Having lived on my own for a few years before the roommate saga, I am happy to report that although quite a learning experience, I have no desire to revisit that chapter of my life again. Cheers to independence!

Of course, moving into a new place called for the proper trip to my furniture mecca, Ikea. I took great joy in assembling most everything in the apartment by myself (who says you need a man?!). The great thing about Ikea is how simple their stuff is to put together. Below, some pics of the new pad…

My Ikea shelf. Love!

I filled this Ikea vase with Peonies...

Ikea wine rack. Was super-easy to put up. Now I just need one more bottle in there!

Love this floral kitchen brush; and these little Oriental guys are my salt & pepper shakers (bought in Norway).

Kudos to Mom for spotting this at Ikea. Coolest knife block ever. Ever.

Love this frosted glass Ikea lamp & the branch pattern...

This Ikea lamp in the living room gives a nice warm ambiance at dusk...

And not to forget, the new curtains! When I moved in the living room window was nothing more than a sad, sorry and outdated conglomeration of mini blinds and dirty glass. Cleaned it up, nixed the blinds and here we are…

Sheer curtain detail...

Courtesy of World Market and Bed bath & Beyond. Both are good for eclectic home furnishing finds. 🙂

It’s my birthday :-)

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Today is my birthday folks. Yep, turning 27. Ah how life starts to fly by the older you get. I don’t fret it, it just reminds me to cherish the day, to remember the good times as well as the bad, and learn from them. To hold on to fulfilling relationships and break away from toxic ones. To practice self improvement. A birthday is another year of happiness, and the pursuit of it.
Today I’m going to my grandma’s where we will have a small get together in honor of my being born on this glorious June day. To be honest, so much has been going on in my life lately ( moving, relationship issues and etc.) I haven’t even thought of what I’m doing to celebrate my birthday. Sad.
In years past, I always had a big dinner with friends which included a bar hop after. This year, haven’t even thought about it. That’s okay though, I’ll figure something out.
As I write this post from my mobile phone, I’m reminded of how much I have to get internet for my new place!
Cherrio all…

Out of touch…

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It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written anything; life gets busy and distracting sometimes; for me, the last week has been somewhat intense; I moved out of that god-forsaken house I shared with my otherwise retarded roommates, got my own place, and slowly, am making the transition. Having lived on my own before, I welcome the mornings where I wake up alone in an empty place; I love it. Also, there’s been some trouble in paradise; relationship issues. Martin and I are having a difference of opinion on an important subject which I’ll disclose at a later date; we’ve been together 1.8 years and this is our first big argument…so, I guess we’ve been doing pretty good all this time. We will work it out, the important thing is that we can talk about it. So, within the last few weeks, lots has changed and developed, and I’m just trying to take it all in; this is life, ever changing…write soon.

How I know I’m growing up…

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Lately, I’ve been thinking about things. Noticing things. Paying attention to things that, I never really gave a wink to before. They say when you grow up, you begin to look at things through a different scope, seeing through a more mature, more refined, more intuitive lens. In June I’ll turn 27. Ah, that much closer to 30 (sigh). No, really birthdays don’t scare me, unlike some women who associate them with aging and decay (you know the type that refuse to tell their age), I look at them as, another year on this great ride called life. The thing I do notice is, with each year that goes by, I begin to see life a bit differently, that is, put simply, from a more mature perspective. Below are a few things that, as I’ve gotten older, rank high on my priority list, things that I provide more undivided attention to.

FINANCES

If you would have asked me five years ago about investing, mutual funds, retirement or anything having to do with financial security, I would have flashed you a blank stare. Because five years ago my mind, although not completely immature, was just, in a different place. I wasn’t thinking about important issues like how to divvy up my money. I wasn’t afraid to work. I enjoyed working hard, earning things, and that feeling of fulfillment that tagged along. But I didn’t give an inkling of thought to investing some of my earnings so it could work for me later in life . I was more worried about scanning the racks at my favorite shopping haunt Forever 21 for the latest designs or checking out a new nightspot in Orlando. Obsolete things. The things that I deemed important at that time now seem so, adolescent and petty in nature. Nowadays, I think more about down the road, not just right now. That sexy top I wanted from Forever 21 the other day? Well, I took the $50 and invested it to my mutual fund instead. Score!

PARENTING & CHILDREN

These days, I find myself observing children and their parents. This is something that, I never would have noticed or cared about a few years back. But, due to my age nearing to 30, maybe it’s nature’s way of reminding me that I have this amazing thing called a maternal instinct, something that never reared its head until recently. I see parents and kids everywhere, whether it be a restaurant, mall or theme park. And I study the interaction between the two and think, what would I do in that situation? Some scenarios that have spiked my curiosity…

  • Fair skinned toddler at a theme park. Skin is rosy, it’s obvious they’ve got a little sunburn going on. Sans hat, sans sun protection. What the hell, mom?
  • Obese kid of about 7 or 8 years old, grazing on french fries and drinking soda. Not only is the kid flooding excess amounts of sodium and sugar into his system, but, he’s also setting himself up for a long list of other health issues down the road; heart disease, diabetes, hypertension to name a few. The parents should step in and encourage healthier meal alternatives, such as fresh fruit and milk.
  • Kid who stays indoors all day, due to lazy parents who think it’s easier to plop him in front of the television for entertainment than to take him outside, where he can play at the beach, a park, or chase animals. As stated in the post https://camilligence.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/limiting-tv/, kids have energy, kids need a platform to express themselves. There’s nothing wrong with spending some time with their favorite TV personality, but, in moderation.
  • I have a friend who constantly cleans up behind her child. That’s the worst thing you could do!  By constantly picking up a child’s plate after dinner or his scattered toys, you’re not teaching him anything when it comes to accountability and responsibility. Children who are old enough to eat independently are old enough to pick up after themselves, starting with picking up their own dishes following every meal, and gathering toys into a collection place, like a bin or play room.

EXERCISE

When I was in high school I would, on occasion, take the family dog around our suburban neighborhood for a jog. Then, I moved out, got my first place, and something happened. I got busy. Busy with school, work, life…the newfound responsibilities of adulthood thrust me into some kind of exercise rut. I stopped exercising, devoting more time to work and school but foregoing time for myself. Bored and restless with the order of my life then, I found that I predisposed myself to feelings of depression and listlessness. The same old routine day in day out, became mundane. But what I didn’t realize then was that there was so much I could have done to change the way I felt. Fast forward to my life right now: I live across the street from the beach. I make it a point to get out there three times a week (sometimes four if I’m feeling particularly ambitious) for a combination of speed walking and jogging for 4.5-5 miles. I feel like my day is more complete after a rigorous, sweaty workout. Not only for my mind, but for my body. I realize the physical activity I get now will thank me later, by lowering high blood pressure, decreasing body fat, and building muscle to name a few. And not to forget that rush of feel good Endorphins from the brain, making you feel invincible, unstoppable, like a driving force nothing can contain.

NUTRITION

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been more conscientious as to what I throw into my mouth. You know those people in the grocery store scanning the nutrition labels? Yea, that would be this girl right here, me. I know some might think it’s a bit O.C.D, but I beg to differ. I don’t read every label but I do pay attention to salt content and fat, and how much processing is involved. I believe the closer your diet is to the Earth, the better. Meaning, fresher is healthier. A large percentage of my diet is vegetables and meat, I steer clear of anything processed or with a shelf life. Hot pockets, frozen pizzas, boxed dinners, canned vegetables, ugh. And fast food? When I was in my early twenties, I would hit the drive-thru late at night, prime body metabolism slow-down time. And not to anyone’s surprise, I blossomed to 152 pounds. Poor lifestyle choices. Oh, but what does the beauty of a new day, a new month and a new year bring? Maturation, and change. I didn’t like what I saw on the outside or how I felt inside. So I changed it. Now,I think I visit a drive-thru once every two or three months. It’s a rare occasion. And it’s usually after some alcohol consumption ;-). Everything in moderation.

CAREER

Never before has the importance of a structured, thorough education and appropriate job placement occurred to me until these dire economic times. With so many people unemployed in the States and throughout the world, it forces you to think hard about your educational goals, with attention to career choice. My parents (like many) told me, do what you love, follow your passion. Well, unfortunately if your passion happens to be art, you’ll likely have a hard time making it, as most artists don’t seem to really make bank until they die, forcing the monetary value of their works to skyrocket through the roof. Sad but true.So this has led me to reevaluate my own educational goals. Is there a market out there for what I’m studying? Something that interests me but also something that I can live comfortably off of? Because in this economic age, a career in which you can build a life from, is a necessity.

Ah, yes, the road to adulthood. A rocky, sometimes slippery and uncertain trail, but the learning on that hike, makes it all the more satisfying…

Germany- Würzburg (6)

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Würzburg from a top Festung Marienberg

Würzburg. I bet you’ve never heard of it. Although not ranking as high in popularity as Frankfurt, Berlin or Dresden, the city has an undeniable charm and beauty that surrounds it. Daniel and Katja had to work that day, and I, the curious traveling American, was hungry for adventure. I wanted to go out and explore! I looked out my hotel room, it was a beautiful day. The air was crisp and a blue sky hung overhead. I went downstairs to the receptionist, who was very helpful in offering suggestions on places I could check out for the day. I wanted to go somewhere at the furthest, about an hour from Ansbach. She suggested Würzburg. Of course, I had never heard of it. But nevertheless, she noted it was one of her personal favorites, a picturesque city dotted with red roofs, Gothic and Baroque churches and chapels, a stately Residenz and an impressive Fortress dating back to the 12th century that overlooked the whole city. I was there.

I walked to the Ansbach train station, got my ticket and hopped on an S-bahn. I had to say, for me only being in Germany for about 7 days, I was becoming rather comfortable with their public transportation system. It came so easy- key in the type of ticket, where your destination is, and you’re off…

Train tickets

Now this train was taking a different track, for the last few days the only one I’d become accustomed to was the Ansbach to Nuremberg route. But this one would take me 1 hour outside of Ansbach to the northwest, winding through Bavarian countryside. The train had many stops, picking up a lot of school children. I sat there in my seat, observing. Some sat there with their iPods, some chatting with friends, some alone. I thought about children in the USA, many of them dependent on mom or dad to pick them up from school. And these kids, as young as they were, strikingly independent riding on a train to their final destination, without mom or dad holding their young hand. I admired that.

When we finally reached the city, I was greeted by Würzburg’s busy hauptbahnhof (main train station). It was a sea of people, like the Nürnberg one, bustling and full of life. I loved it. I  loved how normal it was to depend on public transport here. Back home, if you didn’t own a car, people gave you a blank stare like, How do you possibly get around? Public transport isn’t highly prized stateside unless you reside in a metropolitan area such as New York City. And on that scale, it’s faster to get around on the subway than sit for hours in bumper to bumper traffic. Americans like their cars and the freedom that comes with them. Here, public transport was a way of life, and not at all looked down upon.

I grabbed a stadtplan (city map) and began walking. My first destination was the Residenz. I had googled it on the train ride, learning some key points about the place.

  • It took 24 years to complete, construction beginning in 1720 and ending in 1744.
  • The Prince-Bishop of Würzburg, (a fellow with a lengthy name) Johann Phillip von Schönborn, built the sprawling palace in an effort to mark his important political standing. It also housed later Prince-Bishops.
  • The architecture follows a Baroque, steering clear of the ever popular Gothic style seen over much of Germany.
  • Heavily destroyed in World War II air raids, renovations from 1945-1987  helped to bring back the Residenz to its near-original state.

Walking along the busy city streets, the entrance to the Residenz is marked by high iron gates, intricate in detail. Because I was visiting in late March, the courtyard gardens (Hofgarten) were not particularly in bloom yet, but, still pleasant to gaze upon.

Beautiful palace...

My eyes were wide open, scanning all the beauty...

Topiary in the court garden...

Angels in the court garden...

Court garden staircase & some curious statues...

I spent a considerable amount of time out in the court garden, pacing back and forth, trying to cover every inch of the grandiose estate, I didn’t want to miss a thing. I took a liking to the fountain strategically placed in the center of the gardens, the water trickling, was the only audible sound. The busy city of Würzburg, left behind in the mind, an element of tranquility wrapping around me, providing a sense of comfort…

Next up, I wanted to check out the interior of the place. The outside of it was impressive, I could only imagine what was waiting inside. They gave tours, but sadly, photographs were prohibited. According to the receptionist, camera flashes damage the delicate murals on the walls (whatever). But they were quick to remind that you could always purchase a postcard for memories. Pffff! So, I passed on the tour. It was early afternoon and I hadn’t eaten yet, so I began walking in town and found this homey little bakery.

Inside, chatting with the owner, I made an effort to speak in German, but then found out that she used to live in Georgia, so the conversation quickly switched to English. She told me how much she loved Georgia, really all of the USA, and longed to go there again. Funny how, one man’s trash is another’s treasure or so they say. Because I couldn’t begin to understand why she would want to live in Georgia over this place! I mean, the buildings, the culture, the food, landscape…everything, beat Georgia ten times over in my opinion. What did Georgia have? Red sand and paper mills. Ah, to each their own.

Might I add that Germany has some of the best pastries I’ve ever tasted? Below, my afternoon treat…

Lecker...

While in the bakery I pulled put my stadtplan and began scanning it, checking out all points of interest. The owner told me to definitely go check out an old fortress perched atop a hill, overlooking all of Würzburg. She noted that I should call a taxi since it was quite a walk, but I thought, how better to experience a city than to walk through it? So I did.

I didn’t take main roads, I took side roads and winding alleys because those were more interesting to me, with small trinkets of beauty and a bit more obscure. I soon met the one cathedral synonymous with Würzburg’s skyline, St. Killian. It was constructed back in the 10th century, and rebuilt due to World War II air raids.

St. Killian cathedral

Behind it was this small, Gothic chapel that I instantly fell in love with. The Baroque character of it drew me in, the exterior decorated with sculptures of skulls, flirting with a bit of Gothic. The chapel is otherwise known as the Schönbornkapelle,  and was built in 1721. This was indeed one of my favorite buildings in all the city.

Schönbornkapelle

Detail of skull sculpture...

From there, I continued my trek toward Fortress Marienberg, taking me onto the alten Mainbrücke (old main bridge). This bridge has a substantial timeline in the city and is often compared to the Charles bridge in Prague, having a somewhat similar appearance.

  • Construction for the bridge began in the 11th century.
  • Due to destruction from flooding, the new bridge was constructed in the 14th century.
  • The bridge is adorned with statues of saints.

alten Mainbrücke

While the busy hustle of pedestrians passed me by, I was studying the saints, the detail on them was absolutely beautiful.

Saints watch over...

St. Killian

View of the river Main…

The river Main from old main bridge...

The river was lined with restaurants and bars, packed full of Germans hungry for some sunshine…

Chowing down over the river...

Once across the bridge, I had a steeper trail to climb to get to this Fortress. Indeed it looked punishing, but hey, I was young, I could handle it right?

To Fortress Marienberg

I would be lying if I said I didn’t break a sweat while hiking up to this place. I was sweaty and breathless by the time I got to the entrance. Whew! I told myself, this better be worth it. And was it, ever…the place was intriguing.

Impressive beauty...

Fortress Marienberg (German: Festung Marienberg),  housed the Würzburg Prince-Bishops before notable Prince-Bishop Johann Philipp von Schönborn constructed the Residenz. The first building atop the great hill was the Marienkirche (Marien church), constructed back in the 7th century. Later, the groundwork began for the surrounding fortress in the 14th century. Today what consists of the Fortress is a chapel, well house, and a museum full of artifacts. I walked inside the courtyard…

Light billowing into the medieval darkness...

The courtyard was quiet, a few visitors piddling around. I walked around, eyes huge and taking it all in, the beauty of this place, feelings of time swept by. I pondered the inhabitants of this place, what hardships were faced here, the experiences here, a lot of feelings…

Beautiful Baroque structure...

Walking around the fortress walls...

Most impressive from the fortress was the view. Being a resident of Florida now for five years, I’ve grown accustomed to the ever-abundant flat nature of the state. Not to say I’ll ever tire of the beaches and palms but, it’s always refreshing to see a little bit of landscape.

Loitering around the walls for a bit, really doing nothing in particular, just, taking it in. The city of Würzburg reduced to a microscopic bustle of hurried people and traffic below, but up here, the attitude was at a slower pace, more reserved, and serene. The fortress grounds served as a sort of relaxation place for many, a place where they could disconnect from life for awhile. People sitting under a tree reading a book, people chatting with a friend, people wandering alone, or appreciating the sunset. Whatever they were doing, everyone I passed by, looked content.

Overlooking Würzburg...

I made my way back to the courtyard and checked out the Marienkirche (7th c.), the church that the fortress was constructed around.

The interior was striking and also very delicate, these photos were taken through an iron gate that prohibited visitors from walking further in.

Interior

Next, I checked out the well house, once serving as the main water supply for the fortress. Looking down, deep down!

Well, hello...

I looked at my watch, it was 5:00. I had to get going back to the train station, which seemed so far away. I didn’t know exactly how many miles I had walked, but I knew it was at least seven. Looking down at the city, I could see how far the Residenz was from where I was standing now, atop this steep hill inside the Fortress Marienberg. But, as stated before, what better way to experience a city than to walk through it right? Here’s a few random shots of the fortress before I left.

I treaded carefully down the same punishing steep hill I had climbed to reach that magnificent piece of history, following the same way that I came, through winding alleyways and mossy staircases…

I crosssed the alten Mainbruecke and took a few side streets…

I looked at the fortress one last time before hurriedly setting afoot to the train station, forever pressing into memory…

Wow, I walked all the way up that hill! Sad thing is, that's a normal walk for most Europeans!

Bumping shoulders with busy pedestrians like myself, all waiting to get on a train home, I finally hopped on one headed to Ansbach, back to my friends Daniel and Katja. I came aboard, and slumped into my seat. I was a bit tired. iPod in ears and eyes shut, the quiet rumble of the train lulled me into a slumber.

An hour and half later, I was back in Ansbach. Daniel and Katja picked me up from the train station and we got a bite to eat together. I told them about my day in Würzburg. Having never been to the city before, they enjoyed my plethora of tourist photos. Over dinner, Katja commented on my traveling alone, saying how she wished she could’ve taken more time off work to show me around. Asking if I was afraid or nervous, I told her no, because traveling alone, it makes you get in touch with yourself on a deeper level. You learn about your strengths, your weaknesses, your sense of self, it’s a whole lot of self-actualization…it’s great. Of course, traveling with friends is always fun too, but, I think everyone should at least travel alone once in their lives. Just a trip for you and your conscience. I really enjoyed Würzburg, as it was the last city I visited in Bavaria. I only had one day left, and that was a travel day. My time in Deutschland had now coming to a close.


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