We've been home a few days now, and I've had some time to reflect on our amazing journey. First of all, I have finally uploaded pictures. You can view them by clicking here.
We ended our last day in Germany with Jenny and Felix. They were so gracious to host us again. We arrived at the beginning of the trip as strangers and left as family. I know this is especially true because Jenny got up at 6 a.m. to take us to the airport! We were met with heightened security and a pat down because of the recent threats, but travel was incredibly smooth. The jet lag however has been killer on this end of the trip. I've had a really hard time adjusting to my normal time!
We spent the weekend with my family catching up and playing games. We were so happy to see the pups again. It's incredible what an important part of our family they have become.
Everything about Christmas and New Year's was unconventional for us this year (we were asleep by 10:30 on NYE). In light of that, I've decided that instead of a New Year's resolution list I will post some travel tips that I've learned from our experience.
1. Travel with someone you love. It makes every experience richer and more fun. This was a dream for Charlie and me, and I am so thankful that we experienced it together.
2. Take two pairs of comfortable shoes and a pair of slippers. Don't scrimp here.
3. Travel by train. It's economic, safe, and so unlike anything you will do in the states. It allows you to meet others and share stories.
4. Stay in a good hostel. The only time we spend in our rooms was to sleep. We found good safe hostels that served breakfast. Load up on breakfast and grab a roll for the road. You can spend that money somewhere else!
5. Tear out the sections that you need from your guidebooks to make "mini" books. They fit better in your pocket and take up less space. This is a Rick Steve's trick.
6. Speaking of Rick Steve's, read "Europe Through the Back Door" before you go. (Thanks, Oma and Opa!) And buy his travel guides. They are fantastic.
7. Have a backup plan in case you drop your digital camera on centuries-old cobblestone and it breaks.
8. Don't eat at any restaurant that you can eat at here. Unless you're desperate and nothing else is open. But there will always be something else open. That's when you might have your most exciting meal!
9. Live like a local. Buy fresh bread at the bakery. Shop at Aldi. Walk everywhere. Go to sporting events and the baths.
10. Don't be embarrassed to take pictures, but remember that the best pictures are the ones in your mind. (That's a mom-ism!)
11. If you are going somewhere in the winter that is likely to get snow, you should probably take ski pants.
12. Pay for everything in cash. It's a great feeling to come home and know that you're not getting an enormous credit card bill. But if you must purchase something big, like a cuckoo clock, use your Capitol One card that doesn't charge a conversion or foreign transaction fee.
13. Even if you don't journal (I hate it), jot down what you do everyday. That way you won't leave anything out later when you are retelling your travel stories. Make note of fun, interesting, humorous, and challenging events.
14. Be flexible. Things will go wrong. If you expect it, you won't be surprised or grumpy and can make a quick adjustment. Remember that the only thing you can control in every situation is your attitude!
15. When in a bind, Gummi Bears are a perfectly acceptable substitution for a well-balanced meal.
Wherever you wander, there's no place like home. Love!