My friend had the opportunity to teach on a base in Italy near Venice for several months this fall/winter (October-January) and mentioned that I should join her at some point to travel around areas of Europe I haven’t yet explored.
Here’s the thing. You cannot ask me, in all seriousness, to come visit you in another country. Because I will. I’ve been on a pretty good kick of traveling internationally at least once every year since 2005, but 2010 ended up a little crazier than I anticipated so I had resigned myself to taking a year off.
Not so, my friend. This trip was going to help me fulfill my quota!
A million ideas started running through my mind of where we could go and what new places we could see, but then an even BETTER idea came to mind. This trip I was going to take along a travel companion. The boyfriend.
The boyfriend made his first official international trip (Ohioans don’t usually count Canada) in 2005 when he came to Ireland to ask me out. The most amazing experience of my life.
Since then, he and I had made numerous domestic trips together, but our only other joint international venture was to a resort in Cabo, Mexico. A fantastic trip, but I’ve been yearning for him to come on some others with me and finally, the timing seemed right.
I started mapping out itineraries, looking into flight schedules, asking about when he could take time off work (he has no vacation) and started to get overwhelmed by the possibilities. Until I asked for his input.
The thing about the boyfriend is that when it comes to planning a trip, we are complete opposites. He agonizes over the costs, wants every trip to be calm and relaxing, and doesn’t exude the level of enthusiasm I require when we’re discussing travel, especially to far off places. I, on the other hand, like to go into the planning and preparation phase with full gusto, maps and train schedules highlighted, a million browser tabs open with landmarks and things to do, and ‘we may never visit this place again’ as my mantra.
He took one look at my European adventure and quickly nixed the whole thing. “We will be constantly on the move and exhausted; vacations should be relaxing.” “We will hardly get to see or experience any one place if we are hitting that many countries.” “This is going to be so expensive that we will never be able to afford to go on vacation again.”
Sooo dramatic. Luckily for him, I am reasonable.
These concerns were somewhat valid, so I was willing to renegotiate the countries visited list. Perhaps he was right; four countries in two weeks might be a bit aggressive. However, my brother and I back-packed through 11 countries in 16 days and my other brother and I backpacked through seven countries in 14 days so I know these things can be done.
I surprised myself and agreed that sticking to one country and seeing and experiencing as much there as possible was a better idea. We both whole-heartedly agreed that one destination would be his homeland—Germany.
I quickly changed gears and immediately bought us a partner EuroRail pass (Best. Deal. Ever.), and he looked into booking flights and hotels with the points he had earned from his work travel so we could cash in and save money. It turned out the flights were the cheapest if we flew into Frankfurt December 30 and out of Frankfurt January 10. We were flexible on dates so this wasn’t an issue … until I realized we were going to be in Berlin for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day! Incredible!! Berlin is one of the top five world-wide destinations for New Year’s Eve celebrations so every other concern I’d had about the revised itinerary not living up to my expectations—gone.
My friend had other New Year’s plans so we decided to meet up half-way though the trip. The boyfriend and I would fly into Frankfurt, take the train to Berlin and stay for a few days, hit Dresden and Nuremberg and then meet her in Munich. From there, we would do Dachau, Passau, Bad Griesbach, Fussen, Ulm, Stuttgart, Heidelberg and then home by way of Frankfurt.
I loved this plan. We were going to get to see a ton of cities I had not been to before (on my previous sibling whirlwind trips we had hit Berlin, Munich, Augsburg, Cologne and Hamburg), and we were going to spend some time in the Black Forest where my boyfriend’s paternal grandma is from.
My boyfriend’s family is very much into their Germany heritage, and I thought this trip would be exciting for him in that regard. The way we planned to start in the northeast and work our way clockwise around to the left was not only reasonable in terms of travel, but left other itinerary possibilities for a follow-up trip in the future—we could start in the northeast and then circle counterclockwise around the north to the west and central areas of the country, which would allow us some time along the sea where his paternal grandpa is from.
I thought I had the luxury of working on the itinerary for a few months, however, the rental house we were residing in fell into foreclosure, we had to find other living arrangements and move in one weekend, we celebrated back-to-back November birthdays, Thanksgiving, December birthdays and Christmas, and there we were. Sitting in CLE ready to depart.
And so began my adventure to Germany with the German.