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Five on Friday

Five on Friday–Black Lives Matter Edition

I haven’t shared a Five on Friday in a long time. But I also haven’t blogged in a long time.

I started a blog because I like writing. I may not be the best writer, but I find that writing helps me get out words that are stuck inside. However lately I find myself with no words. I live in Minneapolis, which has now been the scene for two police shootings onto black men. But it’s clear that this is not just a Minneapolis problem, this is an America problem.

I try not to share my political feelings on this blog, however I feel that the blatant racism we are currently experiencing is more than a political opinion. I don’t care if you are a democrat, republican, independent, or someone who steers clear of politics, we need to come together as a society and stop all the hate. We need to recognize and stop the racism. We need to stop the war with police officers. And we need to stop the war with each other.

Supporting #blacklivesmatter does not mean that you don’t support or respect police officers. Grieving the death of a black man shot by the police does not mean that you can’t also grieve the lives of police officers who have been sniped. And furthermore, you can support gun rights, while also thinking a gun reform needs to come along. But it’s not okay to support gun laws, and then criticize a black man for carrying one.

tweetI respect police officers. I nearly cried the other day thinking about how much hate some of them are experiencing. I truly believe some people join the police force because it’s their true calling; they aren’t looking for power, they aren’t racist, they just want to protect and serve. However I think it’s undeniable at this point that racism exists within America, which obviously includes police departments.

And here is a main question I think every white person needs to think about, have you ever been afraid of losing your life at the hands of a police officer? And maybe the answer is yes, but then I still think that speaks volumes to the problem of police brutality. To quote my governor, Mark Dayton, speaking in reference to Philando Castile being shot: “Would this have happened if those passengers, the driver and the passengers, were white? I don’t think it would have.” Full article here.

And in case you are one of those people who doesn’t think that we have racism in this country, please explain to me how someone as racist, and hateful as Donald Trump can be a presidential candidate? And possibly our next president?

So with this Five on Friday I find myself following a theme. Today’s theme will be featuring articles from people who can better put into words the way I feel about the problem we are currently having.

Check Your White Privilege –If you find yourself feeling so helpless with what to do next, or how to help, this is the perfect post to read. I found myself nodding in agreement as I read my way through the post.

A Call for Change  –this is a friend of mine in real life. She is the wife of a police officer, and she writes about the issue with such grace. Everyone needs to read this, and reread this, and share this.

Liberal Redneck–Black Lives Matter — This one hit close to home for me. I grew up in a very small, conservative community, where most people hated the cops, and didn’t follow the law. Now all of sudden all these same people are saying “well when a cop tells you to do something, you do it.” I see right through all of you.

Being a cop showed me just how racist and violent the police are. There’s only one fix. –This is written by a police officer, and discusses clear racism, and why police brutality continues to happen. “The problem is that cops aren’t held accountable for their actions, and they know it. These officers violate rights with impunity. They know there’s a different criminal justice system for civilians and police. Even when officers get caught, they know they’ll be investigated by their friends, and put on paid leave. My colleagues would laughingly refer to this as a free vacation. It isn’t a punishment.”

There’s Something Disturbing About The Way Cops Act Just After They’ve Shot Somebody. –“If police officers want to convince the public they value black lives as much as any others, they need to start acting like the lives they’ve just taken matter.”

Travel

Vienna

I’m in the midst of recapping my trip to Europe, you can play catch up here.

On the morning after Christmas we hopped a bus from Prague to Vienna. This was a pretty short bus ride, and the country side within the Czech Republic was nice to look at. Our bus stop was like a junk yard. For real, we got dropped off in this empty bus lot with chained fences, and run down cars. The only redeeming factor was that this junk yard had wifi! And Vienna had uber, whereas other countries did not have uber as a mode of transportation. We were only staying in Vienna for a night, so we booked our hotel through hotwire. You guys, stay away from hotwire.

The hotel was three stars but it felt like one. The walls were thin, the sheets felt like paper, and the shower looked dirty. However they did advertise free breakfast and by another happy accident the hotel was directly across the street from the train station that we would need the next day for travel to Budapest. We couldn’t check in yet, so we put our stuff in their “luggage closet” which was just a closet in the hallway, not monitored or locked. I made sure to grab all my valuables and we set out for the day to utilize the daylight.

Side note” traveling in the winter months was really hard becasue we only had a small amount of daylight each day, so everyday felt jam packed trying to fit so many sights into a few hours. In the following pictures, you will see that the sun is already going down, and it was only 2 o’clock.

sunsetting

parl

me

These photos were taken at the Belvedere is a historic building that now houses Austrian art. It was originally built to be a summer residence of Prince Eugene Savoy, and has two palaces, with a garden in the middle. Vienna had such a royal feel to it. Everything looked pristine, and luxurious. We kept walking, and stumbled upon  the St. Charles Church, which is regarded as one of the city’s greatest buildings.

churchfar

church

In the courtyard outside of the church they were cleaning up a Christmas market. I can’t say that I was upset to miss another market, but I did think it was odd that most of the city was packing up Christmas on the 26th. I feel like here in the U.S. we really try to hold onto the Christmas spirit until at least New Years, but I saw so many people throwing away Christmas trees, and packing up lights. We also later found out that the 26th is a holiday in Vienna, it’s Boxing day also known in Vienna as Stephen’s day or Stefanitag. As St. Stephen is Vienna’s Patron saint, the day is an occasion for more celebrating in the capital. Because of this, a lot of stores were closed! I was really dumb and only brought two pairs of socks with the hopes of rewashing them as I went–remember I was traveling with only a backpack–well I needed more socks. We were not able to find a place to buy socks in Prague, but I had found Vienna had H&M, but it was closed for the holiday. Annoying! This was one of the main streets, super desolate.

empty

Another side note: the whole trip, in every country we found places to be closed at odd times. I don’t know if this was just a holiday thing, or a Europe thing, but it got super frustrating.

When we set out for the day we didn’t have too much of a direction, just kept heading in the direction toward the river. I had watched an episode of Anthony Bourdain traveling in Vienna, so I had a faint idea of things I wanted to see, and eat. In a happy accident I found the sausage cart that he ate it and it was life changing. It was a cheesewurst placed inside a warm baguette. Seriously, to die for. If there is a reason not to be a vegetarian it’s so that you can eat cheesewurst. And salami. And pepperoni. You get the point.

sausage

Right next to this cart was St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and I think this was my most favorite building to view. It has been restored, and is considered a main landmark in Vienna.

cathedral

cathedral2

After eating our cheesewurst, we found the river and walked alongside of it until we reached Prater, which is an amusement park located in the district of Leopoldstadt. While walking along the river there were so many walls filled with graffiti, and I just loved it. I know some people hate graffiti, but I kinda love it. I just think it’s great, free, public art.

graffiti

graffiti2

graffiti3

Fun fact: this photo of the Wiener Riesdenrad ferris wheel is one of my most liked photos on my personal instagram. I managed to catch a good photo, right at dusk. We didn’t ride it, but maybe next time!

ferris wheel

While in the amusement park we decided to warm up with some coffee and dessert. Something else that my friend, Anthony Bourdain, told me was to try sachertorte. It is one of the most famous Viennese culinary specialties, it even has it’s own day, December 5th. It was pretty delicious, spongy texture, with a rich chocolate flavor.

cake

After this we decided to make our way back to our room. Because it was a holiday, nothing was open food wise, so we found ourselves the only patrons at a Middle Eastern restaurant a block from our hotel. I didn’t mind though, good, fresh food, with a side of shisha.

The next morning we went down for our complimentary breakfast. It was one of the best continental breakfasts that I have ever had. A great spread of yogurts, meats, cheeses, pastries, and fresh squeezed juices. I was so impressed that this came free with our room. After this we decided to go book our train tickets for Budapest. The lady at the counter was super helpful, she told us that you just buy a ticket, and then get on any train you would like since they left once an hour.

We decided to leave on the 2 o’clock train, so that we could walk around Vienna a little more. We threw our luggage back into that ‘luggage closet’ and then checked-out. Wellllll that breakfast that the hotel website told us was free, was apparently not free if you booked through hotwire (remember when I said to stay away from hotwire?). Did they tell us that before eating the breakfast? No. So we paid $14 a person for that free breakfast. I did say the breakfast was good,  but only when I thought it was free. For $14 each I would have much rather gone to a cafe and chosen something I really wanted. Lesson learn, in Europe, ask before eating the ‘continental breakfast.’

The rest of the day was spent walking around, enjoying the sunlight, and taking pictures. We managed to walk through our last Christmas market of the trip (am I up to 6?) I don’t even remember anymore!

cobblestone

slight christmas market

guitars

hall

train station

Next stop, Budapest!

Favorite Parts of Vienna:

  • So easy to navigate. The city is broken up into districts, which made looking at a map super easy. I never felt lost.
  • The food. Do I say that in every post? Probably! But seriously everything I ate in this city I just loved. I have dreams about that cheesewurst stuffed in a baguette!
  • The city felt very clean. Overall it is a very pristine, beautiful city.

Would I go there again?

  • Maybe? If I were in a neighboring city, I would take the train over for a day or two. I would definitely avoid it the day after Christmas, haha! But I think it’d be a great place to visit in the fall!

 

Fitness

Participating in a Triathlon

I did something really stupid. I signed up for a triathlon.

My gym, the YWCA Minneapolis puts on a triathlon every year, and every year I think to myself– this year is the year that I am going to participate! I even wrote about it in this post about goals from 2012 (#3).  Well 4 years later, and I have yet to participate. One year my excuse was that I didn’t have the money to do it. Another year my excuse was that I didn’t have a bike. Well this year I have a bike, and a bit more money, the only thing I was lacking was a training partner. It’s an all women’s tri so I needed a lady pal that was willing to sign up. And a few months ago I found the perfect person.

Back in April this triathlon seemed like such a good idea. It’s a 500 yard swim, 15.5 mile bike ride, and a 5k run, I kept telling myself how easy it was going to be to complete. The race is August 14th, I felt like I would have so much time to train. And I had visions of myself becoming a great runner, and really loving the training process. I almost laugh as I type this. I am now a month out from the race, and I have barely trained. And when I do train, I hate every single second. I miss doing workouts that I like to do. If I attend a cardio class instead of go for a run, I feel so guilty. I find myself counting down the days until training is over.

runningI hate running. I have always hated running. I can recall two times in the entirety of my life when I would say that I enjoyed running. So if I hate running so much, why in the heck did I sign up for a triathlon? I don’t know, I guess I thought that I should challenge myself or some crap like that. I kept listening to all those people who say ‘take your weakness and make it your strength.’ Those people are dumb. I think it’s okay to have weaknesses, and mine is running. I think I was trying to be optimistic. Thinking that if I devoted enough time to properly running that maybe, just maybe I could work myself up to a 5k.

I really didn’t want to spend a ton of money on this race, but the one thing all runners preach about is buying the right shoe. So after weeks of having shin splits, I finally gave in. I went to a small business running store by my house and got properly fitted. He did all sorts of tests– figuring out my pronation, my arch height, etc. I walked out feeling really, really good about these shoes. Well my shin splints have gone away but I have so much pain in my foot that I can barely stand to run. I thought maybe they just needed to be worn in better so I wore them to step class last week, they hurt so bad that I walked out with numb feet. Side note: I will never understand why I can complete a 45 minute aerobic step class (with foot pain) but running for 5 minutes makes me feel like I am about to die.

newshoesI started out using the C25K app, but had a hard time sticking with it. Summer vacations and moving into a new apartment have gotten in the way of training. I will work up to longer running stints, and then lose it if I don’t run within a few days. You logical people are probably thinking “why isn’t she running on vacation?” Who wants to ruin vacation with a run? I mean really. So lesson learned, don’t sign up for an event that has me training over the summer.

And I was so worried about running that I didn’t even think about my swimming ability. I grew up swimming, so I felt I was a pretty strong swimmer. Wrongo. I mean, I’m not bad, I’m just not fast. And I haven’t mastered the whole keeping-my-face-in-the-water-coming-up-for-side-breaths-thing. But you can swim the race however you want to so I will be keeping my face above the water, even though it’s going to greatly tire me out. I think this will actually be okay since I will have hoards of people swimming next to me, I think I will want to be able to see what’s going on around me. Plus I am not that concerned with my finishing time.

So what do I think will be fun about the race? Biking. I love biking, and it comes after the swimming portion so I think it will be a nice way to catch my breath, and recharge. I’m also looking forward to the meal before and after the race! Carb loading the night before, and then a victory meal. Of course I’m in it for the food.

bikeSo please wish me luck! And if you have any running tips, throw them my way! I could use all the help I can get.

Travel

Prague

I’m in the midst of recapping my trip to Europe, you can play catch up here.

While planning this trip I think I was the most excited to visit Prague and Budapest. I had heard such beautiful things about both cities. Prague was the next stop after Dresden. We got to spend two whole days in Prague, which happened to be Christmas eve and Christmas day. The bus ride to Prague wasn’t too bad except for the dirty bathrooms, but that had sadly become the normal for riding on these buses.

We got off the bus, which luckily was also the train station. And this train map was soooooo much easier to navigate than Berlin. There were two train lines, and by total chance our hotel was located on one of the stops. Literally, you got off the train, and walked a few steps to get into the hotel. We didn’t plan this, instead we selected the hotel because it had a pool, and we thought that it’d be fun to have a pool for Christmas.

We stayed about ten minutes outside of the city center, which I didn’t mind because the train system was so easy. Everything I had heard about Prague was correct. It is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful cities I’ve ever seen. I’m mostly going to let the photos speak for this post just because my words are less interesting.

This is the first photo I took upon arriving in the city center, and every time I look at it, I can’t believe that I was there. That I saw this. It’s unreal.

market

In the middle of the city center there was yet another Christmas market. If you are keeping count, this was our fourth market, so I was pretty much over the Christmas spirit, which was a shame because it was Christmas eve! I loved each market for different reasons. Berlin had the best price on things, Dresden was quaint, Groningen was just so pretty because it was set along the water, and Prague had the best food options. On Christmas eve I was casually drinking mulled wine, while sitting next to a castle, was this real life? I’m still not sure.

othershot

Next to the city center is Prague’s astronomical clock, which was built in 1410, making it the third oldest astronomical clock. Definitely worth seeing.

clock

lookingup

nightclock

After walking around the city, we decided to find a nice place to sit down and have dinner. The one thing I am not very good at doing is taking pictures of my food. I’m always just too excited to eat! This was one of my favorite meals, with no picture proof. I started the meal with some wine and sparkling water, followed by creamed spinach and a sheep’s milk gnocchi, with bacon, and peas. It was sooooooo good. My body was craving vegetables, and the spinach hit the spot. Also sparkling water is something I drink everyday, so I was elated to find it everywhere while in Europe!

nightdrinks

nightcatle

The next day we woke up slowly, and drank coffee in the hotel room. It definitely didn’t feel like Christmas morning, but who can complain about sipping coffee and starring out over the city of Prague!

We didn’t have much of an agenda for Christmas, just a few landmarks we wanted to see. The first stop was the Charles Bridge. It’s a historic bridge that crosses the Vltava river in Prague. It showed up on every must-see tourist list, and I can see why. It’s a beautiful pedestrian bridge, that stretches between Old Town and Lesser Quarter.

beginningbridge

bridge

bridge2

boats

water

dam

Seriously, aren’t these photos so beautiful? As I look at them I am still in total amazement. We crossed the Charles Bridge from the Old Town side, and explored Lesser Quarter for the day. We walked through another Christmas Market (seriously, take a drink every time you read the word Christmas Market), more castles, and a cathedral. This market had amazing food, and it was measured by the pound, so you could try a small taste of a lot of foods! I tried a few different kinds of potatoes, some goulash, some veggies, and breads. Again, I suck at taking photos, so you will just have to trust me when I say it was delicious. Or you will just have to go to Prague and try it for yourself!

This is the St. Vitus Cathedral. I’m sure Adam got so sick of me because every time we’d see big, beautiful architecture like this I would say “can you imagine how long this took to build?” Or “I can’t believe people could create something this beautiful without  technology.”

othercastle

cathedral

anothercastle

As we walked away from the cathedral, these are some of the views looking in the direction of Old Town, and the city of Prague.

city

prague

After this we walked over to, or really I should say we walked up to the Prague Metronome. Of course I didn’t get any pictures of the metronome, just views from up top. This was seriously a hike, lots of stairs, but so worth it. Plus I enjoyed any bit of exercise I could get.

overlook2

overlook3

me

In some of these photos it looks like I photo shopped in all the clouds, but I promise that I am not that crafty with photo shop! The one thing that was hard for me in Europe was how overcast it was. Out of 16 days, I think I saw the sun maybe 5 days? I may live in the tundra that is Minnesota, but we do get quite a few sunny days, even in the winter!

After this we grabbed some snacks, and headed back to the hotel so that we could go swimming and just enjoy some downtime on Christmas. This trip was go, go, go. I’m glad I got to see so much, but it was also exhausting. Do you remember when I told you that we booked the hotel specifically for the pool? Well what the hotel (or rather hotwire) failed to mention is that you pay extra to use the pool. For $28 you could get access to the pool and gym, or just $14 for the gym. Adam and Sahar didn’t feel like spending this, but I really, really needed some time to myself. I bit the bullet and spent $14 to use the gym. And it was probably the best money I spent on the entire trip.  Even though we walked an average of 7 miles everyday, using weights felt amazing. I spent two hours working out, and I felt so rejuvenated afterwards. It’s crazy what alone time, and endorphins can do for the soul.

After I was done with my workout, we headed to the casino next to the hotel, Adam wanted to spend the last of his czech koruna, since we would not be using this currency the rest of the trip. This was quite the experience. The casino was in a dark, closed strip mall. We had to take a small little elevator to the top floor, it felt a little like we were being kidnapped. Once inside we had to check our jackets, show them our passports, and get out pictures taken as proof that we had been there. We probably looked like we were up to no good because we stayed for maybe 5 minutes, but we just didn’t have that much money to gamble!

Then it was time to pack, and go to bed. Since we had two whole days in Prague, I washed some things in the sink so that I would have a few clean items. We booked a room in Budapest that had a washing machine, and I was already looking forward to it. Traveling with a backpack was smart since I was on the move so much, but I was already sick of everything I had packed.

We woke up early the next morning to board our bus to Vienna. I was about halfway through my trip at this point. At times I wondered how I was going to survive 4 more destinations, and at other times I felt that I could have traveled forever.

Favorite Parts of Prague:

  • Transportation! So, so easy. And brought you everywhere you needed to go.
  • The food. Very starched base, not as much emphasis on sweets, so be prepared to fill up on carbs!
  • The architecture- very gothic, and well preserved, or at least felt well preserved.
  • The leisurely pace. It never felt like anyone was in a hurry. In Germany I always felt like we were being rushed to leave places, but in Prague everything felt relaxed.
  • The scenery. You saw the pictures, so beautiful. I could have spent a whole day just sitting on a bench taking in the scenery.

Would I go there again?

  • Yes! I really hope to go to Prague again someday. However it was super touristy. I know other seasons and parts of Prague probably aren’t so touristy, so I would plan accordingly. By the end I got really sick of how many people were coming up to me trying to sell some sort of tour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel

Dresden

I’m in the midst of recapping my trip to Europe, you can play catch up here.

For me, one of the hardest parts about this whole trip was lack of wifi. Not because I wanted to instagram and tinder, but because I wanted to be able to map things easier. And google. If I had a dollar for every time we had the following conversation: “What do you think that building is?” “I don’t know, google it when we get back to the room.”

In Berlin, I pre-mapped out our route to the bus stop, which was going to be about 60 minutes by train. Well we came out of the hotel and I took a right instead of a left, which threw off everything. Their train system is super intricate, and not English friendly.

berlin-s-bahn-map

We were already running late, and could not figure out which train we needed to get us to our bus stop. I asked 3 people, none of which spoke or English. Adam finally picked a train that was going in the general direction that we needed, we took it a few stops, got off and searched for a cab. We made our bus to Dresden with maybe 3 minutes to spare. I had such an extreme amount of adrenaline running through my body, I vowed to plan better, and leave earlier for the rest of our trip.

The bus to Dresden wasn’t so bad. It was only about a 3 hour trip, and I listened to Serial season two the whole time. Once we got to Dresden we got off at the first train station stop, which had wifi for us to scout out our airbnb, which luckily enough turned out to be really close. We decided to walk it, which was maybe a bit ambitious with all of our stuff, but we made it just fine!

Once we arrived, the lady showing us the space only spoke German and was shocked to see that there were two of us staying the night. It was a small space, with a tiny futon, but we made it work. The downfall- no wifi. Soooo with no idea of what to see or which direction to go, we set out toward what we figured was the city center.

Dresden is a much smaller city, so figuring out transportation was a breeze. Our first stop was Zwinger, which is a museum complex with a nice courtyard in the middle. The architecture was so beautiful, and there were mythological female statues placed all over the property.

 

zwinger2

zwinger3

zwinger4

zwinger5

This was Hotel Taschenberpalais which was across the street from Zwinger. If I had to do it all over again, I definitely would have stayed in a hotel in the city, rather than an airbnb that was further out.

zwinger

After Zwinger we walked to a Christmas market, which is actually why we chose to make a stop in Dresden. Partly we chose it because it was on the way to Prague, a nice way to break up such a long bus ride. But also Dresden was rated highly in terms of their Christmas markets, which did not disappoint. They had a few markets, and I think we walked through all of them.

market

market2

One of my favorite things about Christmas time is eggnog. Judge all you want, but I really love the stuff. I could drink it all year round. In one of the markets I found something that looked to resemble eggnog, but without speaking German or having wifi I really could not be sure, I went for it anyway. It’s called eierpunsch, and it is not the eggnog that I know and love. It is a warm alcoholic egg based drink, but it’s not as creamy as the eggnog we have here. But traveling is made for new adventures, right?

eggnog

punsch

After my eierpunsch I got some gluehwein, which is a hot wine punch, similar to a mulled wine. If you remember I also had some gluehwein in Groningen but that time it was cold from the bottle, whereas this time it was warm from the pot. For an extra euro you could get it jazzed up with a shot of rum or whiskey, which seemed like a no brainer. Right next to this market was a mall, which also had a grocery store inside. It’s a very bizarre notion compared to the U.S. but it came in pretty handy when trying to save money on drinks. You could carry around a drink, or beer within the market, which just feels like such a luxury. The U.S., and Minnesota in particular is so strict with their drinking laws, so I’m always pretty tickled when I can carry around a drink in public. Dresden was probably the coldest location that we had been to thus far, so drinking really seemed to be like the best idea to stay warm.

Once it got dark we decided to walk back toward our airbnb, and of course we ran into another market. At most of the markets were booths selling a thing called currywurst. It’s basically a sausage covered with a curry ketchup, but the one I decided to get was covered in a spicy cheese sauce. I loved it.

Before ending the evening we decided to buy some wine at the pharmacy, and sit next to a fire within the market. I lied before when I said that Groningen was the last time I felt like I was on vacation. The entire trip was a dream. I don’t know if I will ever have another time in my life when I will have weeks upon weeks to soak up other cultures.

nightmarket

When we finally made our way back to the airbnb, Adam passed out hard. But I have the curse of troubled sleeping, so without wifi, and no book I was wide awake. I turned on the TV and watched a German movie to try and help me sleep. This didn’t work, and I ended up listening to Serial, same episodes I had already listened to. This actually helped me sleep quite well. So I guess you can already tell my feelings about this season of Serial…

Remember when we first got to Dresden and we were so excited about how close the bus stop was to our place? Wellllll we got off at the wrong stop, so we had no clue where the stop was the we needed to catch our next bus from. And without wifi we decided it would be best to walk back to the original bus stop (which had wifi), to map our route. Upon arrival to the train station/bus station Adam realized he left 100 euro in the room, and had no way of getting back in. He messaged the owner in hopes of possibly getting it back, and she promised to send it. I’ve never actually heard if he got that back or not. While he was dealing with that,  I decided to get some breakfast, which in Germany is more sausage. No joke, this is a breakfast croissant around a sausage.

sausage crossiant

We figured out that we needed to take a train to the other bus stop. Side note, I really loved train stations in Europe. We just don’t use trains in the same way here in the U.S. Once we hopped the train, we had to scramble to find the unlabeled bus stop. The buses we were taking are exactly like the mega buses here. You don’t have an assigned seat, there is no clear bus stop, you don’t know if the bus is going to be on time, or how many people are already going to be on the bus. It’s realllllllly fun.

train station

But we boarded the bus, and we were on the way to Prague! Prague for two whole days!

Favorite Parts of Dresden:

  • It was such a cute, quaint little town
  • Not super touristy
  • The architecture
  • Easy transportation
  • Sausages!

Would I go there again?

  • I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to go here again.
Travel

Berlin

I’m in the midst of recapping my trip to Europe, you can play catch up here.

At about 11pm we hopped an overnight bus from Groningen to Berlin. When planning the trip, an overnight bus seemed like a really, really great idea. That way we wouldn’t waste 8 hours sitting on the bus during the day, plus we could sleep on the bus, and save ourselves the price of a hotel room. Once executed, this was not a really, really great idea. I can barely sleep while laying down in my own comfy bed, I don’t know why I thought I would be able to sleep sitting up, on a bus. I am going to be real vague when I tell you I took something to help me pass out that ended up having the opposite effect. I was wired, paranoid, and exhausted all at the same time.

Once we hit the German border, the bus stopped and German guards came on to check everyone’s passports. This ended up delaying our travel time. What should have been an 8 hour bus ride turned into 9 and a half. When we got off the bus I felt like I hadn’t slept at all, but I was so excited to be getting off the damn bus. I hate sitting still so travel isn’t ideal. At the bus station we were really hoping for wifi so that we could route our way to the hotel, but no such luck. We tried to find the train station and after a few minutes of feeling super flustered, we made a rookie mistake and got a cab. Whatever, sometimes paying more is worth it for sanity sake.

Our hotel ended up being quite a long distance from the train station, so I was happy to be in a cab, and not on a train. We gave the cab driver the name of our hotel and he insisted that he knew where to take us. Well he didn’t, he took us past the destination, got huffy, turned off his meter but eventually got us to our hotel.

We walked in, and I was told I had no reservation. I must have looked real exasperated at this point because the woman working was extremely helpful. She told me that I must have booked it at their sister hotel which luckily was only a 10 minute walk away, and she drew me a map! We stayed in the Checkpoint Charlie area of Berlin. Checkpoint Charlie was a checkpoint along the Berlin Wall passing between East and West Berlin.

We finally made it to our hotel, dropped our luggage with the concierge, brushed our teeth and set out for the day. We had less than 24 hours in Berlin, so we wanted to see as much as we possibly could! A friend recommended for us to see the Reichstag dome, which is a glass dome built to signify the reunification of Germany. The dome is set on top of the Reichstag building to symbolize that now the people are above the government.

index

dome

dome2

dome3

After the dome we made our way over to the Holocaust Memorial, which is a site in remembrance of the Jewish victims of the holocaust. It’s made up of 2,711 concrete slabs set up in a grid pattern. Even though the number of slabs don’t have a symbolic representation, it was a really powerful thing to see. All throughout Europe are these little brass tiles called stolperstein embedded into the sidewalk, they were created to commemorate victims of Nazi oppression. I forgot to get a picture of them, but it was horrifying to see how many people were ripped out of their homes due to Nazism.

holocaust

The memorial is really close to the Brandenburg Gate, which was a former city gate that was restored after World War II. Now it serves as a symbol for the tumultuous history of Europe and Germany, but also signifies peace and unity. Overall Berlin was rich in World War II and Holocaust history. Germans don’t run from their past, instead they feel it’s very important to remember what happened, and move forward in a positive way.

bradenburg

brandenburg

After this we walked toward a Christmas market for snacks, and drinks. At most of the Christmas markets you could find this sugar bread that they roll around a tube, roasting it above a fire. It wasn’t as good as it sounded. It cooled down pretty quickly, and then was just really flaky and messy. But I really look to be enjoying it, huh?

Our final destination was the Berlin Cathedral, which was gorgeous.

bread

market

cathedral

cathedral2

church

We sure piled on the miles during this trip. After all the sight seeing we stopped by a grocery store and picked up dinner. I was in desperate need for some vegetables. My stomach was yearning for something green. So I bought a salad, and some kefir. Germany was all about the kefir, there we so many options, and it was super cheap. At this point I felt like a zombie, so we headed back to the hotel room, and I passed out cold. The next morning we were heading to Dresden, on yet another bus. Let me tell you how much I loved bus rides after this trip…..

Favorite Parts of Berlin:

  • The kefir
  • The history. Sometimes I found it grim, but it was incredible to see.
  • It was easy to walk around to a lot of the main tourist spots

Would I go there again?

  • Yes, even though it wasn’t my favorite place, I think spending more time there would allow me to see more, and enjoy more.
Travel

Groningen

I’m in the midst of recapping my trip to Europe, you can play catch up here.

When I finally decided that I was going to travel to Europe, I was lucky enough to find a cost effective direct flight from Minneapolis to Amsterdam. If I could give any piece of travel advice, it would be to fly direct. At first I was  a little worried about sitting on a plane for almost 8 hours, I thought a layover would help to break up the time. Plus people thought it was a good idea to tell me that sitting still for too long can cause blood clots which could result in death. But the 8 hours really wasn’t that bad, and I did not get blood clots, or die, so that’s a win. You have a monitor in front of you with an endless supply of movies, TV shows, and podcasts. Plus the flight attendants come around with enough snacks, beverages, and meals that the time actually flies by.

My flight was a Friday afternoon which meant the bulk of my flight was in the dark. I tried so hard to sleep, but it just wasn’t happening. The trip there was very smooth, only a little bit of turbulence, and a great landing. I am a verrrrryyy nervous flier, but with the free booze, and some anxiety meds, I did just fine! We landed in Amsterdam at 6:30am, and I had to wait about an hour to catch a two hour train to Groningen.

You may be asking yourself, why travel to Groningen? Or if you’re like me, you’re wondering how to pronounce Groningen. I had a friend who was there studying abroad for fall semester. And no matter how hard I try I will never, ever be able to correctly pronounce Groningen. So if you’re really curious, I’d recommend googling that pronunciation.

The train ride there was pretty terrible. I was tired, the lights were bright. I wanted to sleep. But traveling by train is definitely the way to go. I wish the US would upgrade their travel systems. When I finally made it to my friend’s house, I laid down for about 20 minutes before being convinced that staying up all day would help beat the jet lag. I was awake for about thirty hours by the end of the day, but the travel adrenaline took over and we set out into the town square of Groningen.

Since it was so close to Christmas, we stumbled upon a Christmas market that was located along the canals. The booths ranged from selling sugary treats, smoked meats, homemade goods, and leather products. Along the canal, some of the boats opened up to serve mulled wine, and other hot beverages.

canal

market

boat

After we drank our two dollar mulled wine, we headed back into the town square to meet with a friend of Adam’s (the guy who I was traveling with). We decided to buy some beer, hit a pipe store (when in Rome Holland), and watch some movies at Sahar’s (the friend) place. Nighttime was beautiful, all the cobble stone streets were covered in Christmas lights.  At this point I had been awake for far too long. I was ready to go home and pass out. Did we do that? No, of course not. We stopped at a dive bar that was close to Adam’s house. It was great, live music, and cheap beer. I found it so fascinating that everywhere in Europe you heard English sung music. Finally after sharing a few beers it was finally time to pass out.

lights

In the above picture is Sahar walking alongside her huge bike. Seriously she was so small, and her bike was so tall. She was nice enough to borrow me her bike for the next two days I was going to spend in Groningen. Biking is the main mode of transportation in Groningen, and I loved it. All of the stop lights have bike lights that tell you when to stop and go, ya know, like a stop light. Jesus, sorry if some of this seems to common sense.

When I woke up the next morning I felt like a new person. Adam gave me a cup of coffee and a stroopwaffel, which was probably my favorite sweet treat from the whole trip. But maybe don’t hold me to that, because as I write about each country I am sure everything will be my favorite. You set it on top of the coffee to help heat up the middle.I have found stroopwaffel in some stores around Minneapolis, but they’re not as good.

stroopwaffle

We set out for the day on our bikes, and biked over to the cutest little cafe because they had the best bitterballen. Bitterballen is a dutch delicacy, it’s basically deep fried gravy nuggets, dipped in mustard. We also got an order of goat cheese bitterballen, which was dangerously good.

pondAt the end of this pond is the cafe.

cutestcafe

bitterballen

coffee

Coffee pretty much defined my whole trip. Most of our days revolved around touring architecture and finding coffee shops. After we left this cafe, we biked out to Reitdiephaven, which is a neighborhood that sits on the water, and has a much more vibrant feel to it.

colorhouses

rein

blueboat

houseboat

This was a houseboat floating on the water, but built into the banks.

After this we biked back into the town square and climbed up the Martinitoren, which is a bell tower in the center of the city. The climb up was quite intense, and not for those who are claustrophobic. The top was super windy, but had some really great views.

martinitoren

stairs

views

clock

After all this unintentional exercise, I decided it was time to consume back some of those calories. We headed to Three Sisters cafe that had a great outdoor patio. It was about 50 degrees, you may think that’s not patio weather but last weekend it was 50 degrees in Minneapolis, and I saw people in shorts! Plus the patio had heater lamps. Here we consumed spiked lattes, and enjoyed having nothing left on the agenda. This was the only part of my trip that actually felt like a vacation. We had what felt like endless hours to just chat, drink, and enjoy the environment.

boozecoffee

We ended the evening by sitting in the middle of town square admiring the large Christmas tree while drinking a bottle of gluehwein that we bought for three dollars, it was suppose to be heated, but we just drank straight from the bottle. Class acts.

christmas tree

tree

The following day was my last day in Groningen. We did a final walk around the city, got some coffee, ate some smoked fish, and Chinese food. The Chinese was the worst I have ever, ever had. But the smoked fish was the best! That night we had to catch an overnight bus for Berlin. Prior to getting home we had to return the bike to Sahar, and then walk back to his house to pack. Of course we got caught in the rain on the walk home, so everything was soaked. My shoes, my coat, my hat, my clothes, everything. And in Europe drying machines aren’t really a thing. So I had to pack a bunch of wet stuff into my small backpack, and go sit on a double decker bus for 8 hours.

Favorite Parts of Groningen:

  • The bike culture
  • The canals
  • Getting a cookie with every coffee
  • Stroopwaffel
  • How small yet big it was
  • The people are so friendly
  • The sense of community
  • It wasn’t a tourist location

Would I go there again?

  • Yes!
Travel

I went to Europe.

I have two regrets from college; 1) I never lived in the dorms. 2) I never studied abroad. Granted both of these regrets have led me to have a very small amount of student debt, so I should probably stop regretting them, and feel really fortunate to be ahead of the financial curve. But I had always wished to go abroad, and experience a different way of life.

Sometimes I feel lesser because people my age love traveling, and if there is anything that they love more than traveling it’s talking about their love for traveling. I no longer have to feel any lesser because I have been abroad. I have traveled. I have seen a lot. And I have done so much. Side note: I was totally getting inside my own head. No one should ever feel lesser, everything we do in life is part of our own journey. Everyone prioritizes how they want to spend their money, and their time.

Over Christmas time I spent 16 days traveling around Europe. I toured 6 countries, and 8 cities. I had a friend studying abroad in the Netherlands, so he would be my travel partner. And until that trip, I never knew how many emotions you can feel at one time. Every single day I felt energized, exhausted, liberated, humbled, independent, needy, but most of all I felt lucky beyond belief.

Because we were going to be moving around almost everyday, I was convinced by others that I should not bring a suitcase, but instead pack 16 days into a backpack. Without a doubt, I am an over packer. I want to have more outfits than I’ll ever wear, and I want all my beauty supplies on hand. Rarely do I ever wear half the clothes I bring, nor do I ever put on a full face of make-up. But I just like having these things on hand.

I finally saw the logic in being able to carry a small pack on my back, instead of roll a bag behind me. In the end, I am glad I didn’t over pack. But lemme tell ya, I was realllllll sick of that backpack by the end. I was sick of dirty clothes, and washing things in the sink. I was sick of having to unpack and pack everything into that small little bag everyday. But I survived, and I probably saved money because I had no room for souvenirs!

backpack

My Travel Itinerary:

Groningen, Netherlands

Berlin, Germany

Dresden, Germany

Prague, Czech Republic

Vienna, Austria

Budapest, Hungary

Paris, France

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Fitness

4 Years

In a lot of ways I am a quitter. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, I’m not being self-loathing, I’m actually being very real and accepting of who I am. I think life is far too short to spend time and energy on something I don’t feel passionate about. I’ve quit jobs, I’ve quit toxic people, I’ve quit bad habits, and I’ve left unhealthy situations. This is not to say that I quit everything I do. I stick with the things that are worth my time.

I have been a member of the YWCA for 4 whole years! In the last 4 years I have been fat, I have been less fat, I have felt defeated, I have cried, I have worked hard, I have grown, I have learned, I have felt misguided, and I have devoted so much time to learning about myself, and my health. I have done a lot of things in the last 4 years but I have never given up. I have never quit my quest to be healthy.

It took me 4 years to get my bachelor’s degree, and I would dare say getting through college was easier than trying to lose weight. Working hard to lose weight and seeing no results is one of the most emotionally taxing things I have ever been through. And continue to go through.

Every single day I want to give up. Every single day I wonder if going to the gym is even worth my time. Why bother going when I am still going to be fat? I wish that I didn’t care about obesity. I wish that I could just accept being lazy. But I can’t. I can’t quit the gym. I don’t want to quit the gym.

And if you’re a Friends nerd, like myself:

quitthegymI could go on, and on about this being a never ending journey, and that health is defined by more than being skinny, but I would just be a broken record. I’ve had many, many aha moments about health, workouts, and nutrition. I’ve fallen in and out of love with fitness many times. I have wanted to throw in the towel a million times, but I haven’t. I have never stopped trying to better myself.

I may not be skinny, but I know so much more than I did 4 years ago. I know more about nutrition than I ever knew was possible to learn. It sometimes baffles me at how far I’ve come in the last 4 years. I may quit a lot of things, but I stick with the stuff that’s worth my time. I put my time and energy into the stuff I am passionate about.

So YWCA, thank you for the last 4 years!

Here is a look at what I’ve learned, where I’ve been, and how far I’ve come.

Year one

Year two

Year three

Lifestyle

Blogging is Hard

I haven’t blogged in quite some time. Which is sadly very common for me over the last few years. Life gets in the way, and I hate being on my computer once I am at home. Also, I get frustrated with technology. Why don’t my comments link to my email? Why can’t I figure out my wordpress ID so that I can comment on other blogs? It’s a big ole struggle, and I just gave up for awhile. But at the end of the day, this blog has always been for me, and maybe my mom and a few friends that read. So what does life look like for me right now ?

My existence can currently be summed up with the following words: stress, excitement, anxiety, messy, drunk. Let’s be real, my life can always be summed up like that. For the last few months I have been experiencing a great deal of stress with my job. I work for a college, school started which meant 6ish weeks of preparation, and customer service hell. In addition, the light of my work life, and real life (read: coworker) went out on maternity leave. The stress resulted in a complete and utter breakdown on my part. I sobbed at my desk, in front of my boss. And I could.not.stop.crying.

You would think that the next part of my story would be a natural progression, but it’s not. I recently took a new job. Not because I don’t like my current position, I actually like my current job, but because it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. I was not expecting to get this position. I have a history of job rejection, so despite telling myself that ‘I am enough’, I just did not expect this outcome. I am not coping well with the idea of change, and it’s all happening so quickly, I need a little more time to adjust. I expected to be in my current position a little longer. I don’t want to start over, again. What if the new job is not at all what I need it to be. Fun fact: I’ve had some not so great jobs (read: out-fucking-rageous jobs), that I thought were going to be great jobs, so to say that I am a little worried is the understatement of the year.

So how am I coping with all of this? Drinking. I am drinking. Not everyday, but this past Saturday I went to an Oktoberfest and it was great to think about something other than this life altering decision.

Other than being an over analyzing, anxious, stressed mess with my emotions, I am very excited. I feel so fortunate for the opportunity, and I really think it’s going to be a good fit for me. So that’s where I am at with life. Still unsure, still working for a paycheck, and still a mess. And still trying to love every second of this stupid, crazy, beautiful, terrible life of mine.

Thanks to every single friend, stranger, and co worker who has listened to my rants lately. I really appreciate the support, and well wishes!