So, my decision to go to Germany for a vacation was somewhat spontaneous. It started with a rut. A simple rut. A rut of the same old, same old routine. Not that I lead a boring life, definitely not. I’m one who is always chasing the sunset, if it’s beautiful I’m usually outdoors. I’m one who enjoys quality time with friends, theme parks, shopping, working out and the occasional photographic adventure. However, I don’t really know what brought it on but I developed a strong desire to travel. I just had a huge urge to go explore… explore unchartered territory, territory not my own.

I guess you could say I’m a little traveler. I even travel in my own backyard. I’m a lover of old, historical places and am always seeking out hidden gems in my own surroundings. I’m a lover of state parks, beach boardwalks, gardens and other natural wonders. I’m one who will take a drive on a beautiful day and hike all over a state park or take time to smell the roses at a public garden. But, even with having embarked on these small wonders in my own backyard,I was still feeling a bit under-stimulated; I had a strong sense to go on a European tour. This time, to Germany.

Why Germany? Well, why not? Look at the country. It’s a wide open book of beauty and history, ranging from medieval castles and other impressive architecture to impressive terrain like the Alps in the south, to a big seat in the history books when it comes to World War II and the Nazi regime. The country’s definitely not lacking when it comes to things to explore. Being that I studied the German language for three years I also wanted to go to the country where it originated and test my skills! I wasn’t totally alone in Germany: my friends Daniel and Katja live in Ansbach, a town in Bavaria.  Katja always joked with me for years saying, “We need to show you how the Germans party!” Well, here was my chance. After exhausting a lot of travel sites, searching and then searching again, I landed a round trip ticket for $700. Couldn’t pass it up.

Travel Day…

The plane ride was long but that was to be expected. I still think it’s über-cool that within 9 hours you can be displaced in another country. Ah, what would we do without airplanes? I struck up some conversation with my neighboring passenger about his final destination and passed the time with my iPod plugged into my ears. I’m not one who can’t sleep sound on a plane. It just doesn’t happen. At most, I’ll curl up into a not -so-comfortable position with my legs smashed into the back of a plane seat and shut eye for a few hours, but never completely knocking out. Before I knew it, I was greeted by the light of a new day in Europe (as we had left the states at night) and we made our descent down into Frankfurt. I was only at Frankfurt for a few hours then hopped back onto a plane to Nürnberg.

Frankfurt airport

Of course I made time for a stop to Starbucks…

Before I knew it, it was time to board my connecting flight. Nürnberg wasn’t that far via plane, only about 50 minutes. From the Nürnberg Flughafen (airport), I went downstairs and hopped on a U-bahn that went directly to the hauptbahnhof (main train station). I know my neighboring passengers probably didn’t think twice about that subway ride, but to me, it was awesome. Electrically operated machine, sans man; it was genius.

On the U-bahn...

Arriving at the Nürnberg train station, studying the schedule, I looked for the next train to Ansbach. Essentially, I was a virgin to Germany’s public transportation system, but without fail, I found a train leaving for Ansbach in 15 minutes. I drug my luggage down the cold cement corridor. The place was busy. Hundreds of people scurrying (and running) to their next train. In the states, the only place we had that came anywhere close to the same level of hectic travelers would be NYC.

About 35 minutes later, I finally reached Ansbach. Jet- lagged and operating on an overdose of coffee, I waited at the Ansbach train station for awhile and then out came Katja, pulling up in her small, Indigo wagon. The cars were definitely smaller here, as in most of Europe. People are more conscious about the environment as well as fuel costs. You won’t see a big  gas-guzzling Cadillac Escalade on rims here folks, people are just more sensible. Later in the evening, Daniel came home from work, and we all went out to dinner at what would become my favorite restaurant in Ansbach. It was great to catch up and enjoy a warm meal after about 20 something hours of traveling! I don’t even know how I was still awake to savor the meal, but it was delish!

My first meal in Germany: Schweineschnitzel & spaetzle with a Tucher!

After the meal, set out to walk through Ansbach altstadt, a rainy evening, but nevertheless so beautiful…

Rainy night and city lights...

I greatly appreciated the fact that Daniel and Katja had had taken a few extra days off for my visit, but they still had to work (oh, the joys of adulthood). Being that their home wasn’t conveniently located near the Ansbach bahnhof, I told them I’d found a sweet hotel online, only about a 15 minute walk from the train station. So I checked in there for a few days, and then on the weekend I would stay with Daniel and Katja. This way, while they were at work, I could have a easy track to the train station, get my ticket, and check out my surroundings. I checked in that night and with the following day came a new adventure…

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