January 6, 2012

Winter Weekends {Brugges, Belgium & Germania}

Jetlag is officially conquered! I've spent the last few days visiting with friends and stopping to catch up in the veggie aisle of the grocery store! America feels surprisingly good but I forgot how fast paced life is here! I'm trying to hold onto my relaxing pace for as long as possible! To reminisce on relaxation, I'll tell you how I welcomed winter with two weekends of travel to two unexpectedly beautiful countries. Neither  made my travel to-do list before I went but I can't imagine my semester without!

On a tip from a friend, I kicked off my crisp winter weekends with girlfriends in Bruges, Belgium! Bruges is a beautiful Belgian town just an hour outside of Brussels known for its UNESCO World Heritage sights, waffles, and chocolate. Kait, Hannah, and I stayed in a private apartment {Huyze Anna} near the city center, owned by lovely hosts Erik & Charlotte. The apartment had three bedrooms and while I love my wonderful roommate, a whole attic and terrace to myself was quite the treat!

Refreshed and ready to go after a good night's rest and six mile run my pasta-fed body was not ready for, we set out merely to explore and breathe in the unique architecture & mingle with friendly locals. We wandered for hours on end, stopping only for lunch, chocolate, and WAFFLES! We tried our first at one of Brugges' best-Bittersweet, a charming cafe owned by a welcoming Belgian couple. The unique Hot Chocolate {steaming milk + chocolate shavings!} and chai tea lattes were also quite a treat.

I'll let my pictures tell the rest of the story as wandering through aimlessly is really the best way to breathe in Belgium {click on the collage to go to my Flickr album}...

The following weekend was a weekend of little rest! I jumped on a quick flight to Frankfurt via RyanAir that turned into a delayed nightmare. I arrived too late to catch the bus to Mannheim so I took a bus to Frankfurt to catch a train to Mannheim. I arrived in the small town just in time to meet my friend Johnny & join his international group of friends for a traditional Thanksgiving. How fun it was to share an American tradition with Norwegians, Germans, & a few Swiss too! A taste of home is always nice too!

After staying up for football games & getting the dishes done, it was nearly 3 am so getting up for an early train to tour all of Germany the next day wasn't in the picture. We instead slept in and got the train to beautiful, historic Heidelberg! 

I warmed  up with Gluhwein & enjoyed traditional German christmas markets! I couldn't bring myself to stomach a sausage after the gluttony of the night before so no, I failed at being part of German Christmas Tradition! 

We toured the old castle on the hill in Heidelberg which had breathtaking views that captured a typical Germany town. I had such an industrialized view of Germany that the beauty truly took my breath away!

 After a train back, nap, we set out again to waste away precious sleeping time but enjoyed a night of dancing before I caught the bus back for an early flight back home!

Thanks Johnny for hosting, translating, cooking, and playing tour guide! It was nice to just enjoy for a change!

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