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Summer (and fall) of 2015 Super Post

October 26, 2015

First off, we are terribly sorry we haven’t updated the blog in so long.  It has been an absolutely crazy busy and wonderful summer in Germany with tons of visitors and all sorts of things to do that weren’t sitting at home on a computer.  So, this is a kind of mega-post of what we got up to all summer.

Mid-summer we celebrated our seventh anniversary at the most hipster restaurant in Dresden.  They serve everything in little glass ramekins… and that’s it.  That is the limit of edginess and interesting food in eastern Germany.  But it was tasty if not exactly groundbreaking cuisine!

In the first week of August we went home to Michigan for a quick week to see family and enjoy the ridiculously awesome and beautiful summer weather.  We dragged my sister and her family up to Alexandra’s family place in Northport and had a great week of very nice weather as you can see from the pictures below.

Just a few weeks after we came back to Germany… we left again! This time for Vienna.  Alexandra had a conference there and I had decided it would be a perfect opportunity to take a relaxing vacation from… my year long vacation (ok, that’s not true, I am doing research at the University here now).   So we took the train to Vienna during one of the hottest weeks of the year! Oops.  Thankfully you can buy beer at every grocery store and corner store so I made the executive decision to drink one while walking to our hotel.  That’s not our hotel in the picture but was on the way to it because that is just kind of Vienna.  Palaces everywhere.

The beautiful garden grounds aren’t quite as awesome when you are dragging your rolly-bag through them.

Before Alexandra started her conference we made a few tourist stops.  First, was the royal library which was very very impressive and beautiful if a bit hard to find.  Well, the library itself is easy to find, but finding the door to go in is another story.


For Alexandra’s birthday my Parent’s got her a very cool gift.  Two seats in the Royal Box at the Spanish Riding School.  This is a show demonstration put on at the riding school where they train Lippizaner horses.  The original idea was the training of military horses but nowadays it is just pretty.  Sadly, no pictures allowed during the show, but the riding arena alone is worth a picture:
IMG_1616 IMG_1646

Shortly after we got home from the conference in Vienna, our friend Nate from Boston came to visit.  Unfortunately he was only able to stay for a few short days but we tried to make the most of it!  We went and visited a nearby castle (Kriebstein) built high on a hill.

We visited the German/Polish border town of Görlitz (a very much favorite of ours) and enjoyed the beautiful view from Poland looking back towards Germany across the river sitting at our favorite restaurant.

We also visited a very cool nature center where they had a falconer who showed off an amazing collection of beautiful birds of prey including this bald eagle that I was sure was going to eat my face.  Turns out the falconer was holding his arm right behind my head!  One of his falcons “ran away” during the demonstration, and we watched as he spent 20 minutes calling and walking around to try to temp the bird back.

We went for a beautiful walk in the Saxon Switzerland area and enjoyed some very nice late summer weather and some epic views.





And finally, we went with Nate to Leipzig to visit our mutual friend, Liv.

After Nate went home, we had a short lull in our busy schedule and enjoyed Dresden for a bit by ourselves for the next few weeks.  A hot air balloon decided to get a very close look at the river front.

And I captured a double-rainbow at sunset!

Finally, we knew fall was on the way when the fall market started up and I got my first taste of delicious Oktoberfest beer!

Which meant it was time to head down to Munich to meet up with our neighbors from Pasadena who were on their honeymoon.  We had a ton of fun and only caused a small amount of trouble…  I made lederhosen and dirndl t-shirts for everyone using bleach-dyeing which is a very fun and cool technique to make some neat shirts.

After some initial chaos following the revelation that our backpack was not allowed in the tent, and the locker booth wouldn’t open for another hour, we finally made it into the Paulaner tent for the opening ceremony of the festival!  It was also great luck in that our friends of friends got up at 7am to nab one of the best tables in the entire tent.  Very cool!

Things kicked off with a band marching in and some speeches then traditional German drinking songs and everyone was soon having a great time!  

To give you an idea of scale, this is less then a quarter of the “tent”.  With an official capacity of almost 6,000 this place was absolutely crazy.

The next morning we decided to take things a bit easier and went for a walk in the English Gardens a giant city park with many beautiful ponds and streams criss-crossing it.   Also, the large grassy area in the very middle is strangely enough a “clothing optional” area where there were quite a few unclothed old men wandering around.  But I won’t torture you with a picture of that, here’s Alexandra taunting a goose instead.

After we got back from Oktoberfest weekend we had another short break then Alexandra had to go to a conference on the far side of Germany.  Luckily for me, my friend Marcel was coming to visit!  He flew into Munich so back I went to Munich!  We had an awesome trip together taking in the old beer halls of Munich (all of them :).  I even found the most appropriate table to sit at in the famous Höfbrauhaus!

We had an awesome time together and drove to Prague and Dresden together and I showed him how much fun eastern Europe can be.  Sadly he had to leave after only a couple short days to go on to more great adventures but I am hoping he will be convinced to come back soon!

That brings us to a few weeks ago, when Alexandra and I found ourselves a new hobby.  It was German Re-unification day, their version of the 4th of July, but a bit more somber.  So, we decided to do what most germans do on unification day.  Go for a walk in the woods and try to find Porcini mushrooms!  Well, we had a lot of fun, but didn’t find any Porcini’s.  Instead, we found an astounding variety of other mushrooms and discovered a mutual interest in hunting and identifying these interesting and often delicious forest goodies.

One of the best things we found were these very intimidating looking mushrooms.

Here in Germany they are called fall trumpets, but in english they are called black trumpets or even death’s trumpets.  Turns out the name comes from the color, not the after-effect – Black trumpets are actually an amazingly delicious relative to the Chanterelle!  We spent a couple full days collecting mushrooms and ended up with quite the little bounty of forest deliciousness.

Eventually our luck turned and we started being able to recognize Porcini mushrooms, like this giant here.  It looks a little scary, but once it was cleaned, sliced, and dried, it filled our apartment with mouth-watering porcini-purfume.


We also found some other very interesting and beautiful (though often not worth eating) mushrooms like these beautiful coral mushrooms.

We even lucked into some delicious Oyster Mushrooms!

Some more great photos, of puffballs, black trumpets, and poisonous Royal Fly Agarics.

It turns out mushroom hunting is a really fun activity that makes you slow down and enjoy the woods and really see it.

Just a week ago, Alexandra’s mom and sister showed up and had an awesome visit with them!  We went all over Austria and had a really fun time.  Alexandra promised to write up the trip really soon so here are a couple preview pictures to show you just a bit of how great the trip was!


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Betsy Jellema permalink
    November 19, 2015 6:42 AM

    Hello Alexs, your photos are awesome. Love reading about your adventures, Aunt Betsy

  2. Marcy (and Grandma) permalink
    November 28, 2015 7:26 PM

    We love looking at your pictures and living vicariously on your trips! Are you moving back to the States at the end of your year?
    Marcy and Grandma

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