Let's get to the tales of vacation adventures, shall we?
Thursday (May 26th) I left work early for an "appointment" and by "appointment" I mean massage. I had my first cupping session, facial and back cupping. It was totally awesome. I think I fell asleep after she had me flip over onto my back. I felt completely relaxed going into my vacation and not even going downtown to the visitor's center or the start of rush hour traffic had me on edge.
We left on Friday (27) morning, hoping to beat the Memorial Day rush out of Charleston. Other than the snafu of me forgetting my camera at home and having to turn around and go get it, there were no issues. We did experience our first Yelp fail when we stopped for lunch. I had found a place that was a former steakhouse/buffet place and figured we could try it. Teh German and I both ordered the pulled pork sandwich and it was horrible. Completely tasteless. Also, it was served with fries that had obviously been frozen 15 minutes before we ordered, which Teh German did not approve of. We decided that next time, we're just hitting up a Wendy's and dealing with the same old fast food (this will be relevant later).... also that we have unreasonably high standards for bbq pork.
We trekked on and made it to the dog park which is halfway between us and Teh MD-AR's house. The dogs enjoyed some free poopin' time. There was another couple there who were actually on their way home to Charleston from their VA vacation. I found it amusing. We loaded up the dogs, made a pit stop at Starbucks, and headed to MD. We stopped at our exit off 95 to get gas and switch drivers since it was easier than me having to tell Teh German where to go. We made it in pretty good time and Teh MD-AR greeted us with open arm and we all got extra doggy attention.
Teh MD-AR had made dinner and after eating, we hung out for a bit and headed to bed.
Saturday (28) morning, we got up and headed out by 0930 so we could make a pit stop at Arlington National Cemetery as a DC touristy thing. Teh German hasn't ever been to DC and I wanted to see if they had anything special on the grave stones to take photos of since it was Memorial Day weekend. They didn't and traffic was heinous. The Rolling Thunder event was also going down (bikers come into DC and go on rides), which meant that Harley's were every where. A few were even inside the cemetery. There were lots of tour groups as well and it was kinda warm and it was mostly miserable, except for the part where I got to take photos. Teh German got to see the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider doing wreath dedication ceremonies and the JFK/family grave site. We weren't really there long since we had to get along to the airport, but I got photos and Teh German got to do something touristy in DC. Because traffic had been so bad, Teh MD-AR didn't get to go in the cemetery with us, since she was waiting in traffic and parking the car. She waited on us. If I were to rate her driving services on Yelp, she'd get 5 stars.
After we managed to get through the traffic jam that was the parking garage and the cemetery exit, we made it Dulles without incident. Teh German and I were able to get checked in easily with zero weight issues on our luggage (#win). There was a fiesty toddler wearing Minions clothes at the check-in counter who was rolling on the floor and generally being a child and I thought to myself, I feel sorry for whoever has to sit near that family (relevant later). As we were going through security I realized that I couldn't find my wallet. I had a credit card and my SC ID in my pocket from when we were at Arlington, but all my cash and other cards and military ID were in my wallet... which was (in)conveniently located on the backseat in Teh MD-AR's car. I texted her to let her know not to be alarmed when she discovered it and that it was ok that I was without my wallet since I did at least have a credit card and an ID. Our passports had been in a different bag, so I also had that as well.
Since we had some time to kill after security and hadn't eaten lunch, we stopped at Carabbas. After lunch, we headed to our terminal to wait to board. There was some confusion while boarding because we could barely hear the person making our announcements. People were lined up the moment the announcements started. We didn't realize that this was stupid, so we also waited in line.
Relevant supporting information: We flew Aeroflot (a Russian airline) from DC to Moscow to Stuttgart and then in reverse for our return trip.
After boarding, I took my good meds and patiently waited the 20 minutes for them to kick in. What I failed to notice when we sat down was the little shit in the Minions clothes in the seat behind Teh German. So the people I was feeling sorry for when we checked-in? Us. Both Teh German and I passed out before we had even taken off. I slept for about 3ish hours before I was unable to go to sleep because the kid behind us was kicking our seats and generally being a tyrant, screaming, wailing, pitching fits because his sibling had something he wanted. I tried to be patient, but when I couldn't get back to sleep, I was in full irritated mode. I get it, kids are difficult to entertain for 5 minutes, let alone 9 hours, but for all that is holy, do NOT let them physically irritate other guests (i.e. kick their chair, etc).
|Passengers were able to watch the takeoff and landing from a super duper camera on the plane. We were also able to see the landscape since these cameras turned on about 45-30 minutes before we landed.|
In an effort to get back to sleep, I found the spa channel on the music selection and listened to the rain for most of the rest of the flight to Moscow. When I finally gave up on sleep, I turned on All the Light We Cannot See on audiobook and puzzled away on my Kindle. We flew "through the night" and landed in Moscow in the morning. We were served dinner (which we missed because we were sleeping) and breakfast, which meant we wouldn't need to get anything while we were waiting for our flight to Germany... which was good since everything was in Rubles. We had a granola bar while we waited since I could tell that Teh German was getting irritated because we were in a strange place and there were too many people, too close, and we were tired.
|all the rain... on repeat.|
Our flight from Moscow to Stuttgart was short (thankfully) and uneventful. We made it to Germany around lunchtime (29) and Teh German's entire "gang" (as I kindly refer to them as (it's a circle of friends that includes 2 couples and Teh German and other guy)) met us at the airport. Obviously, they were there for Teh German, but it was the first time I've ever been greeted at the airport, so that was exciting. After we got luggage, we headed to Teh German's Mom's house with everyone for "brunch." Teh German's Mom had made lentil soup, which was served with breads and cheeses, and after we had fruit "cake" (more like a cheesecake/pie type cake). After a while, Teh Gang left and it was just Teh German, his Mom, her BF, and I.
After they left, it was chill/not fall asleep too early time. I posted a selfie on FB to let everyone know that we were alive and hadn't been abducted in Moscow (nor were there any Edward Snowden situations) and perused social media while everyone around me chatted in German, to include the TV which was on some channel playing the German equivalent of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
When Teh German's Mom's Man-Friend decided he was leaving, he dropped us off at Teh German Girl's parents house so we could pick up her car, which we used as our method of transportation for our entire trip (2500 kilometers!). She had Teh German's Jetta in SC, so it was a great arrangement. When we returned home, it was time for bed where I was introduced to the European way of sleeping with flat pillows and 2 twin size blankets instead of a shared blanket.
The next day was Monday (30). We were still adjusting to the time, so we slept in late and then decided to go by the bank for some
Sadly, Hohenzollern was closed for a wedding. This was unfortunate because we wouldn't have time to tour it until close to the end of our vacation. It was pretty cloudy, so most of the photos were overcast. I did manage to get a sliver of blue sky for about 2 minutes, but otherwise, the photos were pretty bleary.
As we were driving back down the hill, we stopped at some scenic spots so I could take more photos and I discovered this awesome snail. Of all my photos, including the flower photos, this snail was my favorite thing to photograph.
It was HUGE! Seriously, it would have been longer than my palm. After my snail porn, we headed towards Hechingen to walk around. I got to take some photos of a church, the Rathaus (city hall, but I find rat-house mildly
|Someone lives here.|
Teh German said this was how he was able to start smoking..
|How much is that puppy in the window?|
|Flowers, flowers everywhere!|
|Rathaus and a fountain|
When we had completely walked around the small town area, we headed back to the car. It looked like it was going to rain at any point. We did make a stop by some old Roman ruins, but since it was Monday, the site was closed. Before we got home, it started to drizzle. We had planned to go to dinner with Teh Gang, but ran into a snafu when we realized it was Monday and most places were closed. We ended up finding a pizza place in a nearby town where we all met.
|be still my mountain lovin' heart.|
|This dude had a corkscrew for a penis.|
The photo is horrible.
If you read my confessions in June, you are aware that my German was piss poor. I barely understood anything. This led to a lot of frustration on my part and me sitting in groups of people, struggling to find something to do to entertain myself to keep from crying when the frustration surmounted. #realtalk At dinner, I also got my first foray into German restaurant service. Servers are paid by the hour and tips actually go towards the restaurant rather than the workers, so slow service is pretty common place. There are no expected times for things and you have to ask for the check to be brought out every time.
Glasses get empty in Germany because free refills are not a thing. So while we bitch about a $3 soda/beverages in the US.. at least we get free refills. In Germany, soda was at least 3€ (that's the Euro sign, fyi). You usually got .2 liters (a small) or 1/2 a liter. Beer was about the same price as a large Fanta. I didn't bother to ask for sweet tea. I lived off Fanta and water (with no gas, aka still water) our entire vacation. The standard water in Germany is sparkling water. Not only does sparkling water taste funny to me, it makes me burp. Super unattractive around people who don't know you.
After dinner, we headed back home and settled in for the night. A little more German Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and some internetting/puzzling for me. Then it was bedtime.
German Adventures:German Adventures Part 1: SC to DC to Moscow to Stuttgart, arrival
German Adventures Part 2: Essen, Germany
German Adventures Part 3: Munich, Germany
German Adventures Part 4: Tübingen, Germany
German Adventures Part 5: Departure, Stuttgart to Moscow to DC to SC