In one of my last post, I wrote how I had been away from the blog for a little while. I also thought I would get myself back in the swing of things. I however forgot the fact oh I had a lot of things to take care of with my move to downtown Stuttgart. This meant we had to say goodbye to the Leonberg house, which is above. Not to mention slowly getting myself into the proper mindset of starting a new life. The life of actually for the first time in about five years of living on my own. In some ways the time had some. However I wish it hadn’t had to come in such a surprising way.
As I mentioned before, I always thought I would have another year with my parents but alas, that wasn’t the case. My mom, stepdad and Jada flew out on Sunday, the 7th of July. To say that I was sad, would be a complete understatement. The bond between my mom and I is a pretty strong one. Having a parent who is also your best-friend in some ways is different, but if I needed something, or if she needed something. We each knew the other would be there to help. Not to mention, I didn’t grow up with my mom. This was a redo in some ways. OK, is it odd for a 30 year, well, I was 25 or 26 at that point, to stay with his parents? For me yes, but nowadays, it does happen a little bit more. Now we are each far apart from each other. The good thing is the fact we can call each other if I have a question. Mainly its my questions, my mother is back in the states now. Definitely not like being here needing help with certain things.
Now the bright side of things that are going on with me. I live downtown in pretty awesome city in Germany! I am really enjoying things here. I have never lived somewhere so far like this. I can walk out of my door and go and find various things in a short amount of time. I can go and see friends who live downtown within a 10-15 minute walk. I have about 10 or more restaurants near me, that are a 5 minute walk. Not to mention my train stop is pretty much outside of my door. If I’m running late, I should always be OK.
I have to say, this is pretty sweet! I however have to make myself stay in a little bit more in the coming months. The good with living downtown, is also the bad with living downtown. You have the ability to be close to so many cool things. It makes you want to go out and explore. This means you end up spending more money than you actually should. I do know one thing, once I get everything together, life will continue to be awesome.
Well, after the last few months of travel and getting myself sorted, I hope to be back writing more often. I have great pictures and stories to tell. Look out for all of the interesting things to come. Enjoy!
Do you like wine? Do you like seeing where the wine comes from? Would you like to walk through hills that have wine carts setup, which let you try said wine, oh and see some amazing views? If you answered yes to these very important questions, then the Esslingen Wine Walk is for you.
A few weeks ago it was that lovely time again when a bunch of my friends and I trek our way to Esslingen on a Sunday afternoon, and take part in the Weinwandertag Esslingen or in english the Esslingen Wine Walk. Esslingen is a lovely city right outside of Stuttgart. People love coming here because its just a nice place. It has a great river, where you can find a cafe and sit outside and just enjoy yourself. This is truly my favorite event in the early part of the year. Why? Mainly because it lets you walk through the wine vineyards in Esslingen, take some really awesome pictures, and just enjoy being outside. Not to mention that its pretty much all the hiking I’m ever going to do in the year. Only problem with this event is the fact its on a Sunday. Now I understand a little bit why this is the day they do it. On Sunday nothing is open and you probably want to give the people something to do. They can’t go shopping, there aren’t any shops open to buy beer, wine, or liquor. Except for the main train station in Stuttgart, but not everyone lives by there, nor does anyone want to go just for that reason. The only thing that are open are restaurants, cafes, oh and gelato stands. Lovely tasty gelato.
So how does this little thing work? The walk has 6 stands setup, which takes up about 5km, which is about 3 miles. You start at the first stand, where you buy your sample glass, along with your first glass of wine. From there you start your hike and wine tasting. You spend about €3 or so for your glass, then your first glass is about the same price if not a euro less. Depending on your love of wine, you probably will have a few glasses at the first few stands, then if you are with a group, it becomes cheaper to just pick a wine and buy a bottle from the next stands. Just make sure you know what you like or are in the mood for. Though the bottles are from €10 to €15, pretty cheap compared to if you were buying them from a say a restaurant.
This year the weather was OK at points, until the standard German storm came by. You know sideways rain, hail, and massive winds. Best part is when you are standing through this, completely pissed with the world, then it stops, the sun comes out, and you continue with your day. This was my third time doing this event. The first time the weather was fine, rained or looked to rain at a few random times. Last year, it was completely to hot. Drinking wine and walking around had to be the worse idea you could have. Still we made it through and I had a nice time. Along with the people who found random spots to just hang out and chill.
Now what do you all think is going to happen after you’ve walked about 3 miles or more and had a good amount of wine, and find yourself at the end of all this fun? Well, if you guessed more wine, grilled sausages, other pork products, and a band, you’d be right. Also, not just any band, a concert band, with a German lead singer. Doing traditional German fest songs. I really think that its not a choice. You are pretty much required to have these things. If you don’t, I think Germans may think the event isn’t a real event. Especially if it’s an outdoor gig.
All in all, the wine walk is a great time. Every year I’ve gotten to hang out with different groups of people. We have a great time. We see some really cool stuff, and enjoy decent German wine. I would say if you are ever around the area, then you need to do this event.
Many more excellent things are coming up, can’t wait to share them with you on the next go around. Enjoy the week ahead!
So its been 106 days, or 15 weeks and 1 day, or well, I was going to do the hours and minutes thing, but you all get the point. Its been a minute since I last put something up. I actually have a few drafts that I started during that time. Alas, they never made it up, so the simple question is, what happened?
Well, I got a little sister. Jada Jenae Johnson was born in April. I’ve been an only child for 30 years, my mom and stepdad were able to do this amazing thing and I’m pretty happy with it. It is really funny to be a big brother now. Jada is so cute and its interesting to hold a baby.
My other interesting change was the fact while my mom was pregnant, her and my stepdad told me they were going back to the states for his job. What did that mean for me? Well, I’m staying in Germany for the near future. Along with that news from my parents, I also got a new job. Something that will actually pay me a real salary, though its going to be a struggle. A struggle I’m totally looking forward to.
I was able to find a place, though looking for a place in Stuttgart is one of the most frustrating things in this city. The reasons for this are countless. In any case though a good friend of mine got a new job in the Ukraine, so I was able to take over her place. An apartment that is in downtown Stuttgart, a great place, that will allow me to grow in my life and know what it feels like to be so close to so many things.
Now lastly one of the best times in the year is beginning. That is fest season. What is fest season, well, in Stuttgart every weekend gives you something to do. More will be coming on this. In any case Frühlingsfest (Spring Fest) just ended. This is Stuttgarts form of Octoberfest. Beer tents, rides, and pretty awesome food.
I guess I should also mention the outfit. Yes, that is me in my Lederhosen, loose meaning is leather pants. My friend Brian took this, a pretty excellent picture. Fest season is one of the best times in Germany. There is a sense of community, you make great friends, and you get to hang out and enjoy some nice weather.
Well, I have so much more to tell about so many things. I don’t think it’ll be another 106 days, or 15 weeks and 1 day, or who knows how many hours until I write again. Have a good one and we’ll see you soon!
Happy 2013 everyone! I spent my new years eve with friends and got to see an excellent fireworks show at a local pub called the Maulwurf in Stuttgart. Every year they do a pretty awesome show. Here in Germany fireworks are legal to purchase and use during new years. I’ve attached the video I took during the show. It is a little long, but totally worth the time to see the craziness that ensued.
I hope everyone has a great start to the new year. I know I can’t wait to see and do so much more in my career, personal, and travel life. Happy New Year!!
Last week started the personal quest to see some of the best Christmas markets, oh and see if I can follow the schedule I made up to. First on the list was München (Munich). Like so many of my friends, we love going to Munich. It is a truly an international city, which as I found out knows how to do some Weihnachtsmarkts (Christmas Markets).
Going to check out this market was an idea by John, he mentioned it to me and our friend Anna. He told us they have a lot scattered through the city, along with a gay one called Pink Christmas. We were totally excited, I mean its Munich, who doesn’t love Munich, then you mention Christmas markets and a gay one, you know its going to be a good time.
The plan was to leave on Friday, maybe see a few things that night, do up the town Saturday, with a nice brunch Sunday, and finish by seeing some more, then come back in the early evening. I was ready for this trip, we all talked it up, however I learned a very good lesson. I need to stop being a slow ass. I won’t go into the long story about how I missed my train to Munich with John, Mike, Anna, and Adam, but I learned that I need to always always run for a train. In any case, I did make it to Munich, just not with group. I had to buy a new ticket, on a slower train, that didn’t have plugs nearby. By having to take that train, I did also run into the other people I invited on the trip. Funny thing about running into them, that was the only time I saw them the entire trip. I still need to find out what happened there. I know it has to be a good story there.
With all of that done, the markets are the big story in it all. It was a four man and a lady mission to see the sights and sounds. Oh and probably eat, drink, and be merry. Can you say Gluhwein?
The Marienplatz Market
The main market is in the Marienplatz. This makes sense because this is the main street. When you come to Munich, everyone has to go here, its almost a rule of thumb. I’ve been to Munich three times in the last six months, been there every time. One thing that is always interesting to me are the Christmas trees. Every market in every city has a big tree. I mean in our neighborhood, we have a big tree outside of our house. Here in the Marienplatz you can buy ornaments, candles, clothing, various pottery (pictures below), along with some good food to buy as well. They actually sell a fruit cake there that’s not your crappy American style. You know the one, no one ever wants, but you get it for Christmas every year from someone. We walked through it fairly quickly that day. It was early in the day, but it was packed for sure. Even though it wasn’t the best weather at all. This doesn’t ever matter because Germans will be out for sure.
The Mittelaltermarkt (Medieval market)
Seeing a Medieval market is always a great time. I love seeing the people in their period outfits. Apparently Adam has multiple medieval outfits. I think I’ve seen some pictures that confirm this. What do you find here? Well, you can get some pretty solid jewelry, real medieval clothing, do you want some weaponry to truly get medieval on that ass? You can find it there. Do you want some pork, then go find a nicely roasted pig on the spit? Maybe fish is your thing, well, they are smoking various fish. When I go to these things, I really just want to eat, like everything. At these things, they sell Met (sounds like mead). Its a honey wine, if you can stand some whiskey, then get a little of that, probably don’t really need it, the flavor is perfect on its own. I am completely amazed to see the awesome food fire ovens, I am a bread lover, when I see these things, then see bread, I feel like I’m in heaven.
When John told us that Munich had a gay Christmas market, you have to go and see it for the pure intrigue of it. It’s located in the Glockenbachviertel which is a trendy area in Munich, that is known to some as being the gay district. It has a lot of shops, restaurants, and bars. Pink when we first got there wasn’t impressive, but it did pickup for sure. According to their site, yes they have a website, they do cabaret shows, and a lot of other events. The night I got there, they just had a DJ. Now Pink wasn’t the greatest thing in the world. A friend of mine that went to it later the next week, said it was lame. I thought it was a cool concept, pink Christmas trees, cool clothes, you can get some awesome items, John got some cool postcards, along with a few lanyards, rainbow colored of course. Not to mention Anna got some pretty nice earmuffs. I did meet two cool girls, who came out and hung out with us for the night, the one girl had a really cool boyfriend, who came out later.
I won’t go through all of the other markets. Even though I only really had two or three more, but real quick we also went and saw the manger scene they have setup by Odeonsplatz, where they also have a Christmas market setup there. You’ll hit the market first, then see the manger scene. Now Germans do things really well, but they also odd things. You’ll see in the video I’ll be putting up. We also hit the English Gardens on Sunday after having brunch. The English Gardens is also somewhere you have to go to. Its nice during the summer, cold in the winter, but the crowd there on a Sunday isn’t surprising since the market was nice. A lot of different items that I hadn’t seen at the other locations. Nice little ornaments, interesting clothing for various things, and toys.
In doing the walk through the rest of the garden, I was introduced into just plain wildness. As you can see below, that is a guy surfing in the rive stream thing they have there. According to John this is normal. They do in the winter. I know I’m not a big swimmer, OK, I can’t swim well at all, but I would never do this. Its the wintertime, the water is pretty much who knows how cold.
Munich was fun and it always is. With this weekend down, if you are following my schedule from my last post, then you know what I have coming next. Its not the warmest time of the year, but when you are living where I am, you know you can always find a good time.
It’s December and do you know what that means? If you don’t, then you don’t live in Europe or Germany for that fact. It’s one of the most interesting times during the winter. Christmas markets (in German its Weihnachtsmarkt) have started. What is a Christmas market you may ask? They are great reason for you to not go to the mall or any other random place.
The Christmas market allows you to do a lot different things. First of all you can find gifts for your friends and family, get oraments for your tree, oh and try out some very food and drinks. Now if you are looking for awesome electronics, then this isn’t your spot. You will find simple things, like socks, shirts, kitchen stuff, and a lot of other random things. Last year I bought my dad a pair of socks, along with finding some very cool necklaces, oh a cool ring. The thing for me was the fact it wasn’t crazy expense.
I know some of you might be thinking, “Isn’t it cold outside?” Yes, in some cases it will be snowing, freezing like hell, and frankly there is no reason to be out. However, you can find warm drinks and food pretty much everywhere. What’s the best drink to get? Can you say Glühwein (Mulled wine)? What is this Glühwein I speak of? Its warmed wine, normally red wine that has sugar, orange peel, and other spices mixed in. Some people think its to sweet, like a few friends of mine, but when you are freezing outside, its a tasty thing. You can also get some kinderpunch, hot chocolate, or other warm drinks to.
Now for this years markets I’ve decided to do something way different. I have come up with the fact I want to see almost 10 markets, OK, probably going to be five to seven, but 10 is a nice round number. I have two that are very accessible, those being the Stuttgart and Ludwigsburg markets.
This is what makes it the most organized thing I’ve ever done. I have come up with a spreadsheet, listed the ones I want to see, put down dates and I’m pretty much not flexible, unless there is a very good reason to be. I went to Munich last weekend, pictures and my tale are coming soon. I seriously can’t wait to see some of the markets that I’m planning to see. Check out my schedule below. This is seriously going to be an awesome December!
My Christmas Market Schedule for December 2012
Esslingen Christmas Market – Friday, 7 December 2012
Ludwigsburg Christmas Market – Tuesday, 11 December 2012
Mannheim Christmas Market – Sunday, 16 December 2012
Munich Christmas Market – Friday, 30 November to Sunday 2 December 2012
Nuremberg Christmas Market – 21 or 22 December to either 22 or 23 December 2012
Strassbourg, France Christmas Market – No Date set yet
Stuttgart Christmas Market – Thursday, 13 December 2012
Tübingen Chocolate Festival – Saturday, 8 December 2012
For more information on Christmas Markets in Germany click here.
Over the Columbus Day weekend I decided to do something different. That thing for me was to take a Friday off, which gave me a four day weekend. I didn’t know where I wanted to go, I just knew it had to be a nice place, where I hadn’t been before, oh and it needed to have decent weather. In October that’s asking a lot.
The first location was Basel in Switzerland, the second was Bamberg in Southeast Germany, in the state of Bavaria. Not only would you find Bamberg, but Munich as well in this region of Germany.
The trip to Bamberg was spurred on by the fact that our friend Chris preparing to move back to the Michigan, so our friend John suggested Bamberg. What’s in Bamberg you may wonder. That’s simple, Rauchbier (smoked beer), along with other things. If you ever wondered if it was possible to get a beer with a smoky flavor, the answer is yes. In Bamberg you can get Rauchbier at a lot of different places. They have multiple breweries, so the bier will be different, the atmosphere will be solid, and you will have some fun.
Drinking wasn’t the only thing to do. Bamberg has a lovely area of shopping, the marktplatz (marketplace), which allows you to see great sites. Like the shot I took as you are walking over the bridge towards the marktplatz.
I also ran into something I hadn’t ever seen before. Locks on the wires as you walk across the bridge. I had a friend tell me later that couples who are getting married put them on there. I had never seen it before. It was pretty interesting.
It was made more interesting listening to John come up with random stories on how the couples met that put the locks on there. I could buy some of what he was saying. I mean how in the world are we really supposed to know.
To get to Bamberg train is the best method. In our case it was four of us that took a regional bahn train, on Deutsche Bahn. It is about a 3 hour train ride, which cost about €10. A very cheap ticket because Deutsche Bahn has the happy traveler ticket. Probably one of the coolest things to use.
The ride to Bamberg allows you to see the beautiful country side of Germany. Something I don’t think you ever really get to see in America. This along with wondering at each and every station stop, “Where are we exactly?”
The time there wasn’t long enough, but it was a good trip. We ran into four guys who were visiting from the states, oddly enough one of them was from Michigan. I was wearing my Tigers hat, and for some reason John, who is also from Michigan to, Chris and I were talking either Tigers or Lions, so the guy overheard us. It still amazes me the number or people from Michigan that I’ve met here.
If you are looking for a weekend or even a easy Saturday trip, Bamberg is the place to go. I’ve included a link below that lists the various breweries in town. I have to say you should try out the Brauerei Spezial as your first stop. You will feel a little odd because when we walked in you are in a place with older Germans, but as I’ve come to figure out, no matter where you go, they are going to look at you weird, but that’s Germany.
Check out the rest of the pictures of the trip below. Have a great week ahead!