Each place we’ve visited I’d say we average 20% of our time and 70% of our brain power on deciding what to do, figuring out when to do it and then trying to learn the complicated ins and outs of each locations’ unique version of public transportation. We use the other part of our time and a measly 30% of our brain’s energy enjoying said excursions and then trying to remember what normal people cook for dinner. What did we eat at home? Why can I walk an entire grocery store and not have a clue of what to buy? How is it that so many European homes don’t have an oven?
When you are staying with locals the time figuring everything out is significantly cut down and reallotted to much better pursuits. They have already gone through the growing pains of learning a language and a culture, so we get to just tag along and do the fun things- taking a boat to a monastery that still makes its own beer, finding a pickup soccer game, drinking great wine, reading food labels without multiple translation apps.
Germany has the S-bahn, the Train, and the trams. They all have wheels and ride on tracks and pretty much go the same places. When you get on a train and someone starts yelling in German that the back half of the train will split away mid trip, your local buddy can grab you and run to the front half of the train and shove you in while other locals shake their heads and complain that there isn’t room. Priceless. Where was that back half going? Some place where your car is not in the parking lot and your house just down the road. A place called Who Knows Where, but with a strong German accent. It makes me wonder how every other town would have felt if we had had some inside help. Likely very different. Staying with the lovely Ashley and Matthias, who gladly kicked their oldest out of his room to let us spill out onto every corner, was just what we needed at this point in our trip. An exhale, a breath of fresh air, even a ride to and from the train station. Priceless.
After my last post we were finishing up our coast to coast drive through France, ending in a spot called Aix-en-Provence. Think Napa meets a beautiful language and cheaper wine. With a little bit of Southern Spain thrown in. And fountains. Let’s just say it doesn’t suck. (See top photos). We took advantage of October pricing and stayed at a nice hotel whilst daily making the 15 minute drive into the old part of town. Markets, cafes, wide plazas, and yes, fountains. As much as I enjoyed seeing the interior of France, I think 2 weeks of Aix with concierges chasing me around to offer dinner tips and the perfect rosé would have suited me just fine.
France and Germany- check. Our final country, Italy, is now in progress as we see glimpses of the light at the end of this silly and winding travel tunnel. We trained through the Alps to arrive in Florence and have been getting slightly lost in the narrow streets since. Which is fine because they are all pretty awesome and you always know there is a river and a Duomo if you need to reorient. And they all offer gelato if one needs to encourage young legs to keep walking and walking, I swear you will thank us for this some day. Charlie has had a countdown to December 12th pretty much since we stepped foot into Europe, and last week he asked how many hours we had left. We’ll stick with days for now, which is in the mid 20’s. This has been epic in all the ways, but we are all looking forward to some comforts of home… working in the same time zone as others, seeing friends, riding bikes, having an oven and a reasonable amount counter space. And Mexican food. Oh my gosh that’s where the real countdown is- Mexican food. Only 600 hours to go until tacos!