in which i enlist your help

Yes, YOURS! I have 2 requests, dear Blog Follower.

First, now that my acceptance to the university seems imminent (fingers crossed), I can move on to more interesting things, like TRAVEL! Based on the academic calendar of the university, I am making a list of tentative times I could take trips and matching them up with places I want to go. Here’s what I have so far. Requests for suggestions look like this.

October:

  • Prague with my roommate and some of her friends (Yay Aggi! She reads my blog!)
  • Cologne for DAAD orientation, followed by individual sight-seeing there and a day or 2 at Schönstatt
  • We have Reformation Day (a Monday) off: any good Halloween destinations in/around East Germany?

November:

There’s a holiday on a Wednesday during November, so since I am already planning on having no classes on Monday or Friday, I think a longer trip is in order. My plan right now is London and Scotland. (A friend from UT is in London currently, plus I’ve never been, and a friend from my time in Freiburg is at St. Andrew’s in Scotland!) What should be on my list for 5-6 days in these places?

December:

  • Prague with my family 
  • Via Facebook, maybe a rendezvous with the Bermans in Brussels??? Maybe.
  • If Brussels doesn’t work out, I’ll have a few days between Christmas and classes starting again. Where should I go??

January: 

Not much in the way of holidays during January. I’ll leave this one up to the Research Fates and see how much time I have to travel 🙂

February-March: 

Semester break! During this time, I’ll probably take a trip to Spain once Daniel is there. Besides that, I need some inspiration for trips. Maybe a few 5-7-day trips during each of which I could see several cities? (Gotta multi-task!) I have already been to and will therefore probably eliminate Vienna, Krakow, and Berlin.

April:

May:

  • Any special places to celebrate May Day? This would probably be a day trip.
  • A long weekend in Freiburg.
  • Pentecost Week in Norway/Sweden/Denmark, I think! We have a whole week off, so I have my eye on the Swedish Water House and some sites from Kristin Lavransdatter, which I fortunately finished before I left the states! 

After that, there aren’t many holidays to speak of, and I might need to make up for some research time lost while doing all this traveling 🙂 However, I guess I would appreciate some recommendations for places in Europe that are fun but not crazy-touristy during the summer months? Thanks to anyone who offers their input (in the comments or by email or something). I know i’ve asked for suggestions before; they haven’t gone ignored 🙂

Second, something a little less ground-breaking: I acquired this nice swatch of fabric at the Opera open house the other day. 

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They were giving away scraps, and this is the biggest one I could find. Plus, the pattern is nice and the colors aren’t terrible. What kind of little on-the-train hand-sewing project could I turn this into? Or should I just use it as a babushka?

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8 thoughts on “in which i enlist your help

  1. You sew?? sweet. Purse?
    Brussels is awewome – must go. A day in Antwerp isnt bad either. (need a diamond? Heheh)
    London – yes! We took a bus up to Scotland from there, to get the scenic drive through the moors, etc without spending time and money on other countryside excursions. It was beautiful.
    For other long trips, if you can swing the flight go to GREECE. I only saw Athens (and a day trip to Delphi), so I wish I spent more time seeing the islands, but at least I got to Athens. If you are in Europe for a year, you will kick yourself for not seeing it. (admittedly, it may meam slightly more to an architecture gal, but still…..if you like Roman ruins….) Athens was dirt cheap in 1998; may be a litle different now. 😮
    Also, I may be biased, but PARIS PARIS PARIS and please stop in Nice and/or another southern town en route to Spain. They are like 2 ends if the world but both awesome.

  2. Annie: If you go to Sweden you may still have some relatives twice removed from the Reese family (who Mary Beth’s daughter named after) I will investigate. Joe & I have never made it over the pond but am sorry I didn’t when we knew relatives now deceased that could fill us in on these relatives. I will quiz my cousin’s kids and get back to you. My mother, your great grandmother, always told me that my 32nd cousin was the Prince of Sweden. Ha Ha! but I believed her.
    Grandma Lord

    • I forgot to tell you how much I love your postings. Keeps me in the mix.
      I’ve spent the last hour ready all of them and I am supposed to be doing my Bible Study homework. Now to work!!
      Grandma

  3. Warning, this will be long; there’s little that I like to do more than reminiscing about past trips.

    If you go to Belgium, Ghent, Bruges, Antwerp, and Brussels are all interesting. I guess the first 3 get a little redundant, but I found them all charming.

    For Easter, I personally would head to Holland for spring flowers, which is something not yet scratched off my own list; since Easter is late this year, I think you’d catch the bloom season. Not much Catholicism going on there, though, if you’re looking to combine with a Holy Week experience.

    You cannot pick a bad place to go in Italy. Aside from the perennial favorites Venice, Milan, Florence, and Rome, these places stand out from my month there. (1) For food, Bologna, nearby Modena for balsamic vinegar, and Parma. (2) If you are basing in Florence for a while, catch Assisi, Pisa (some people pooh-pooh it, but I think you just gotta see the Leaning Tower), and an unbelievable hike along the Mediterranean coast between the 5 villages called the Cinque Terre. (3) South of Rome, the Amalfi Coast (SO beautiful), Naples, and one or both of the volcano victims Herculaneum and Pompeii (Herculaneum is actually more educational and very compact to where you can really stop and read about everything, whereas Pompeii is far grander in scale but not as well explained). (4) On the upper eastern side of the boot, Ravenna (beautiful church mosaics), the little mountain town of San Leo, and for novelty value but also quite beautiful the tiny country of San Marino. I think I was able to catch a bus to both San Leo and San Marino from either Ravenna or Rimini (not the same bus to both; if choosing one, I’d do San Marino).

    In Spain, it’s also hard to go wrong: Madrid with day trips to Toledo and/or Segovia; the Andalusian triangle of Granada, Cordoba, and Seville (of which Cordoba was somehow my favorite, although the least flashy); and Barcelona.

    In your own backyard (maybe something for Reformation Day, but perhaps getting too cold already to enjoy): the Spreewald up in Brandenburg (take a Kahnfahrt from Lübbenau). I would do that with someone, though, rather than alone. Or, to give the Protestants their due on Reformation Day, the Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, where Luther translated the NT into German.

    Not too too far from Dresden you’ve got Bamberg in Bavaria/Franken, which would be worth a day or two (try Rauchbier), perhaps in conjunction with Coburg, although Bamberg is the more scenic of the two.

    In/near the Harz mountains, which I really love, you’ve got Quedlinburg and Wernigerode on the former East side and Goslar on the former West side, all beautiful. The little town of Thale has this open-air theater (Harzer Bergtheater) up on a mountain that’s great if the weather is cooperating, which it did NOT on our last GAPP trip (total rain-out). They do musicals and operettas and such. There’s also a mountain called the Rosstrappe which has a nice legend associated with it (“Rosstrappensprung”, we may have read it when you were in German III), and the Hexentanzplatz, which has all kinds of witch/devil legends associated with it. Traditionally it’s not associated with Halloween so much as with Walpurgnisnacht, the night from April 30 to May 1 (which could be your May Day trip, but I seriously doubt you’d want to mix with the kind of folks who’ll be up there that night). Maybe with the rising popularity of Halloween in Germany in the last decades, they are also doing Halloween-y stuff up there. Still in the Harz area, we also hiked up the Brocken mountain on the last GAPP trip, which was a good but not too terribly strenuous hike, but it started pouring and someone got injured just when we got to the top, so we didn’t get to enjoy the fruits of our labor very much. For something bizarre, the town of Halberstadt is using an abandoned church to host a performance of a single piece of music by composer John Cage entitled “As Slow as Possible” that is supposed to last 639 years. It’s kind of an audacious undertaking (or just stupid?). Read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/As_Slow_as_Possible. There’s a change of notes coming in about a week and a half, on October 5, which is a Saturday. If you don’t have anything better to do … but you probably do.

    In Scandinavia, I recommend several days for Copenhagen itself. I loved all of Denmark, but there’s nothing that truly stands out other than Copenhagen, with maybe a day to explore the castles Frederiksborg and Kronborg (the setting of Hamlet, in the town of Helsingor, aka Elsinore) on the same island, Zealand, that Copenhagen is on. If you’re doing Stockholm, set aside a couple days. That was my biggest disappointment of this past summer, that our cruise docked there for just a half day, which was a crying shame. In Norway, there is something called “Norway in a Nutshell” that can be done entirely on public transit: train from Oslo to Bergen (or Bergen to Oslo, doesn’t matter), both interesting in their own right, but with a stop in Flam at the end of one branch of the Sognefjord. I didn’t do the train from Oslo to Bergen since my cruise ship delivered me right into Flam, but just google “Norway in a Nutshell” and you’ll get all the instructions on how to squeeze it into a day. In Flam itself, there’s the Flamsbana mountain railway that’s pretty to ride and an integral part of how to make the Nutshell tour work but maybe a little overhyped, but I had an absolute blast taking a speedboat tour on the fjord with a company called FjordSafari. My day there also included renting a car to go to the stave church at Borgund and then driving back to Flam over the mountains where there was still snow in July. The combination of the Flamsbana, the speedboat tour in the fjord, the church, and the drive in the mountains created one of the single most perfect sightseeing days I have had in my life. Again, you couldn’t necessarily recreate that series of experiences due to time restrictions if you’re trying to get there by train from Oslo or Bergen following the Norway in a Nutshell instructions, unless you spent a night around Flam and made it a two-day deal.

    Slovenia is a little gem, both the capital Ljubljana and two different cave systems SW of there, Postonja and Predjama. Also, my highest recommendation for a drive of several days down the coast of Croatia with amazing islands and ending up in Dubrovnik. Has to be done with a rental car, though, don’t know if that’s an option for you.

    Greece is completely wonderful, both the ruins and the natural beauty. It took a friend and me about 2.5 weeks to do what I think was a pretty thorough criss-crossing of the whole country (except for the islands — well, we included Corfu and Hydra, but neither of those is typical of what people usually have in mind when they say the “Greek islands”). We did it by car, never looked into how possible it would have been by train. For your purposes, if you wanted to do Greece, I’d probably fly into Athens and stay there a few days and then take a ferry to one of the islands and have that experience. If you get into trying to cover the other parts of the mainland, it will probably soon spiral beyond the scope of what you can do in your current context, because there’s fascinating stuff spread all over, from Mt. Olympus to Navplion to Ancient Olympia to Corinth. If you do go to Athens, DO take a bus ride south along the coast to the Temple of Poseidon on the Sounion peninsula. Breathtaking; try to time it with the sunset. From Athens, if you wanted to explore just a couple more mainland places, I’d probably do Ancient Corinth and then the gorgeous town of Navplion (or Nafplio, you see it spelled variously).

  4. A short answer for now:

    Go to Croatia: If you felt like being religious you could perhaps make it a combo Croatio Medjugore(sp) trip. Plitvice park in Croatia is magnificently beautiful as is Split, Croatia.

    Also, if you go to Rome stop by the Mexican restaurant La Cucaracha and have a margarita. Fantastic margaritas, terrible food. I happened to be homesick and in need of something to remind of Texas. The margarita did the trick.

    Perhaps when I find time I’ll write a longer answer. I hope you’re doing well; know of my prayers.

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