Giddy to travel

The first half of 2013 has been a bit rough. Charleston is a charming city, but its charm is — in my opinion — best experienced with friends rather than alone. Working somewhere around 50 55-hr work weeks (which doesn’t include meal or commute time!) in the span of a year isn’t conducive to a healthy social life, so I’ve gradually begun to develop a case of Wanderlust that I so happily nurtured in 2011. Luckily, I have always had an overzealous shutter finger to remind me of easier times and an overactive imagination to dream of when I can do this again.

Germany

The Autobahn and good drivers, the happiness and fun-loving nature of Munich, and a sunset in a small village not so far away from Stuttgart.

Germany redo-3

Germany redo-2

Germany redo-1
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Giddy to travel

Regrounding to reality

After twenty-some weekends away from Stuttgart (out of 26), far more trips to Switzerland (six if I include the route I took to Chamonix) than I initially intended, and a last night in Germany spent not sleeping but rather packing and repacking my suitcases, I was sadly, exhaustedly, and at last headed back to the US for my final rotation.

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Regrounding to reality

Learning to Fall

This post embodies exactly what I didn’t want this blog post to become — in my idealized world, I’d take 200 pictures, have five worth showing, and put up the pictures to thunderous applause and Ooohs and Aaahs. Instead, I take 200 pictures, am rarely impressed by even a single one, and thus write long paragraphs in an attempt extoll the virtues of the place I visited rather than simply present one or two photos I took and let them speak for themselves. How convenient that a blog gives me the ability to justify its existence! :-)

The weekend of Dec. 16 was the ski weekend for which I had been waiting nearly six months — I’d only gone skiing twice, once in the 4000 m peaks of Wisconsin and another in the Himalaya-like summits of Michigan, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from skiing (rather than walking around) the Alps. What I found immediately is that the city of Kaltenbach is difficult to navigate without prior knowledge of its layout. My GPS wasn’t particularly smart — it recognized Kaltenbach 8, Kaltenbach 40 (both of which it placed at the same location), and Kaltenbach 16-something, but not Kaltenbach 23. Most of all, however, it didn’t help that every street in Kaltenbach is called Kaltenbach with no apparent logic to building numbering.

 

I fell a lot at first (no epic tumbles off cliffs, however), but the second day went much better. Even so, I didn’t trust myself to ski with a camera, so I have no pictures, crappy or otherwise, from atop Hochzillertal. Take my word for it, however: skiing in the Alps is really something. If only I had more than ten vacation days a year!


I came away with no Alps pictures and still lacking the sunrise picture that I’d been wanting since August 13, but what this weekend did accomplish was to spawn an idea for my final weekend. I mentioned before that I had fallen in love with Europe, but after multiple exploits to the Austrian,  Bavarian, French, Italian (though indirectly), Lyngen (unrelated, but they’re still called “Alps” after all), and Swiss Alps, I think I finally realized — maybe it was the skiing this time that finally beat the sense into me — that I was just delaying the inevitable realization that perhaps I did like the Alps more than I denied in my first Zermatt post four months ago. In my experience from this skiing weekend, the magic of the Alps is strongest en plein hiver, so on the day before I was to fly back to the US, instead of packing or taking it easy in Stuttgart or even having a proper Christmas dinner, I instead headed southwest, southwest to the mountain that got me subconsciously enamored with mountains. What an expensive love affair that mountain has created.

Learning to Fall

I had a fortnight

I have less than two weeks left in Europe. It’s a scary thought: most of the money I’d normally put into savings has gone to the tourist revenue of France, Germany, Norway, Austria, the Czech Republic, Italy, and that big financial hole known as Switzerland. I haven’t been to a coast on mainland Europe yet, so refusing to lay low for my last two full weekends and wanting to “make the most” of my German Rail Pass by spending more money on yet another trip rather than suck up the sunk cost of the ticket, with a friend’s recommendation and letting it take the place of southern Italy or France I took a five hour train ride to warm and sunny Hamburg.

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I had a fortnight

The Walled City

Four weeks out. My impending departure is beginning to weigh on me. It’s been an unreal — incredible — five months, but curiously, the one place I’ve hardly visited is Germany. After several flurries of interest, a trip to Berlin finally materialized over Thanksgiving weekend.

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The Walled City

Stages of Guilt

I have six weekends left before I leave, two of which were already planned and one of which is Christmas weekend. To try to fit in as much as I could, my original thought for this weekend was to go to northern Germany, but I was pretty badly sleep deprived this week and ended up not planning enough to make me feel comfortable with such a longer trip. I decided to visit the Dachau Concentration Camp and the Unimog Museum instead. This is going to be a deeper post than most I’ve written, and there are no pictures of mountains or cathedrals. If you’ve come looking for “Week Six in the Alps,” you should turn away now. ;-)

I wasn’t planning to spend much time talking about Dachau. I felt that the existence of the memorial should be enough; I reasoned that I could just flash a picture or two of various places in the Memorial and people would understand the undertones. I tried to use the fog present through the whole day to my advantage in portraying the Memorial, but it wasn’t until I started going through the pictures that I figured out what it was that didn’t sit quite right with me when I was actually there: I had felt detached.

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Stages of Guilt

Inconsistent Attractions

I felt that my trip to Dachau merited its own post. It’s certainly serious enough, and lumping in this post — which is still serious, but on a different level entirely — with that one is a bit insensitive, even for me.

After I learned from my trip to the Mercedes Museum that there is also a Unimog Museum, I went there on Sunday to see the trucks in person. I had first heard of them from my forays into construction equipment, but never gave them much thought. They aren’t as productive as actual construction equipment or as efficient as dedicated on-highway trucks, so I figured they tried to be jacks of too many trades. But if a significant number of European municipalities (and especially those in the Alps) use them , they must have some merit beyond looking awesome.

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Inconsistent Attractions