How to efficiently Travel in Germany

How to efficiently Travel in Germany

We are hot in the middle of Summer and the fomo is real.

Unfotunately I will not be traveling much this summer do to work and studies, but I often hear a lot for most expats its a matter of budget ( especially the dear aupairs in this country), but fear not my friends! just because your bank account is low does not mean your hope should be as well.

One of the great things about Germany ( and europe) is the options to travel an stay in many wonderful places on a budget. So, here are som tips and ways I’ve learned to get around in my precareer days that will definitly help you keep on keepin on.

  1. Transport

We all know the schöne Deutsche Bahn, but with those Schöne prices, sometimes its not the best method to travel for a quick city trip. In my experience, I have found these two other opions to really up the ante and help me get from point A to B with ease on my wallet.

Flixbus

https://meinfernbus.de/

This great bus company has had my back in the aupair days and still provides a super option when I am budgeting. Unlike those in the US, busses here are a popular method of travel and a nice option at that. With so many locations in Germany and international, theres always a bus somewhere you can hop onto for a easy get away. I personaly like flix bus because not only is it super easily accessable but they have amazing prices and *bless* some strong af wifi game.

Blabla  Car

https://www.blablacar.de/

This next one is my go to even now a days. The app is amazing for last minute traveling. You simply add in your location, destination and it gives you a list of people who are driving your way. For about 10-20 euros a seat, you can spontaniously hop a ride. Its very well regulated and culturally people are really into it. So it can be a fun change of travel scenery if youre a people person like I am.

 

2. Accomidation

Hotels and Airbnb are fab and all…but the pricing and booking can sometimes be such a pain. If your not into this game, the following options for some cool casual city seeing may probably be right up your alley.

 

Couchsurfing

https://www.couchsurfing.com/

A bit out dated, I must admit, but still helpful every now and then. If you are looking to travel and need somewhere simple to stay or are looking to connect with locals, Couchsurfing can be a great option. You make a profile in their platform and it gives you a list of hosts in the area your visitng, you can chat with them, exchange numbes and voila! find yourself a free place to crash. Ive done it in emergency situations before and it worked out great. Granted sometimes it may be a little sketchy…but thats where our next option saves the day.

Friendsitting

https://friendsitting.com/

My new favourite contender! created by a pair of my friends in Düsseldorf, this nifty little start up is an excellent option to the previous. Similar to the couchsurfing idea, you can stay wih new people in different cities for free..except these people are not strangers, they are friends of friends. The website is quite cleve if you ask me, it uses Facebook to connect your mutual friends and organizes them by availability, country and city. So you simply create a free account and go online and see where mutual friends are hosting. I like the idea because it connects me with people I have  better odds of clicking with and I feel a bit safer than if its just a stranger last minute.

Traveling is a really big cultural aspect in this country ( and continent!) and I believe it is one of the most important acivities a person can do to live their life to the fullest. So dont let your personal circumstances keep you down, I believe if your positive enough there can always be a way to get your way. For now here is my two cents, hopefully its helped you manage yours

 

Have a good summer sunshines

 

xxA

 

Playing about Paris

Playing about Paris

What better way to begin your first eurotrip than with a trip to Paris?

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and no no, I’m no spring chicken when it comes to the euro game, but my Californian cousin S sure is. She planned to finally get out of the country with a three week trip to stay with me, and naturally we had to plan to do some traveling elsewhere.

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As  I have ( or havent) previously mentioned, I used to live in Paris. So for me, it was more of a revisiting my youth.

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but onward to the trip. It started out great, we even made a friend on the plane

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When we arrived in Paris it was sunny and divine. We met up with my friend N from London

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Pose pit stop

and headed straight to the Parisian Paradise that is Ladurée

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my happy place

We had a marvelous afternoon tea and were in Macaron heaven

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take away treasures

We unfortunately were only in Paris for two days, so the rest of the time we ran around doing all the splendid touristy things and sight seeing.

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We ran around all the major monuments,

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Notre Dames

strolled by the Sein

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a little pop by the Moulin Rouge

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and ate in far too many cafes

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So many decisions, so little time

I must admit, I really do love the culture in that city. It can be very difficult at times(a reason I didnt stay) but as a visitor its nice to see how everyone moves so casually and in their own way. They seem to do what they want, when they want and dont care otherwise. The cafe life is much different as well.

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late nights in Montmartre

Going out is about spending time with people, not a focus on the eating itself. You enjoy your company, the view, the time. Theres no pressure or rush to do anything else but enjoy yourself.

Although our trip was brief, it was grand. And the perfect european introduction for S.

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Paris 101: Bread is life

As for me, I will be back very soon… as my macaron stash is getting low

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Laduree all day

 

 

The Troubling Tel Aviv Half Marathon

The Troubling Tel Aviv Half Marathon

Tel Aviv track…not for beginners..

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or for people who trained in the snow all winter…

Honestly,  I cannot begin to say how unprepared I was for this run.

THIS RUN ahhh oh my god was it hard. I swear, I had no idea. I had googled it and every where online people were like ” ohh yess, it was so fun and soo easy. I just ran it in a breeze blah blah blah facile” LIES all of them LIES.

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runderful start to the  morning

The run started at 6am..It was slightly cool and we were all warming up jogging to the starting point.

I had woken up at 5 to prep and have time to make my way across the city

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Sorry keto, I got to cheato

I had a little carb boost and espresso per usual before a race, so I was feeling fabulous and ready to go

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Calm before the storm/ swarm

It was massive and colourful set up at the start. Everyone was waiting around, stretching and preparing

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orange is the new blue

We all then crammed our way to the starting line. Apparently online it said that the event in total had around 40.000 runners ( which I could totally believe!) we were packed like sardines and the sun was beginging to come out…dun dun daaaa

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oh boy, look an incline

BAM we headed out. Music blasting, the crowd cheering as per a usual running event, but one thing I noticed was that most people did not start out with extra power, but started out with more ease. The sun was coming up and it felt oh so casual..but I went ahead full power like my usual starting method..big mistake..tremendous, yuge.

Now other than that during the race I did not get many photos, mainly due to the fact I was absolutely dying. As we ran the sun rose higher and higher, as did the temperature. Not a single cloud in the sky it seemed.And the hills, oh those damn hills! I never thought Tel Aviv had so many inclines when I was exploring it earlier but let me tell you, it ddoooooessssss

Aside from the personal issue I do have to note the course was amazingly setup, the motivation and the crowds gave you so much strength. Every couple kilometers there were stages with Dj’s playing you onward

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Like seriously, every 2km a guy like this was waiting

but back to me dying.

SO as I was trudging along, hoping to death for a nice sea breeze to come save me, my knee gave out.THATS RIGHT km number 12 I became a hobbly old man. It was just this sudden crack and I felt like I would fall over. I got dizzy and naseous and slowed to a crawl. I tried to pick the speed back up but I couldnt. However I realize there was no other options and I kept hobbling forward the next 9km to the end. It was absolute hell and I have to admit at the end I cried the whole last 1,5km. I was sooo over it.

I made it though.

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got my razzle dazzle medal and a handy dandy snack box

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I headed to the medical, got some nice ice for my knee, then proceded to throw up in the toilets..puuuhhh runners life

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All in all, I absolutely fell in love with Tel Aviv. The run is hard, dont kid yourself. And when in doubt ice it out…but dont get me wrong, Ill be back next year..with vengeanceeeeee

Talkin bout Tel Aviv

Talkin bout Tel Aviv

Welcome to the  curiously cool city by the sea

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Oh, the bluemanity

Now I say curious because to be honest I do not know why I fell so quickly head over heels for this small, extremely expensive, not-so-aesthetic bauhaus city …but ohhh baby am I now in deep.

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bike city bitch, bike bike city bitch

To be honest I have so much enthusiasm right now that  I just have to break it down for you list style. So here are my tip of the top 5’s

  1.  Tel Aviv is small, Tel aviv is Big

It’s Incredibly small. I think between my explorations and running the half marathon I have the city basically all mapped out.

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toto we arent in western Europe anymore

It has a feel like Munich, where it has everything you need  for a city but at the same time all the conviences and social comforts of a small town atmosphere.

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Never ending hazy skys over the city

but then again I say big because once you are really out you can feel its strong heart and soul.In the evenings or late afternoons, the people start coming out and the bars and cafes are crowded with lights and laughter.

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It feels so exciting but so comfortable, and it seems everyone is always bumping into someone they know

 

 

3. The beach, the glorious, fabulouuuus beach

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Beach, please

Coming from freezing winter wonderland that is Bavaria, I was probably most excited by the heat of Tel Aviv. It was only around 20-25 degrees but the sunlight hit you just right.

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Cash me at the Carousel, Howbowdah

 

All around adults and children alike were playing sports, in the water, cruisin about

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or just soaking up sun.

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We were able to relax in minimal clothing and get some new freckles all in “winter”time…except no smoothies. FYI even if the coffee shops are air conditioned, they still apparently respect a no smoothie in the winter months rule

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Running away from my problems like

4.The cozy chill culture

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Perhaps it was because I have been in Germany too long, or perhaps its just the way it is, but withhold your potential comments about bias when I say, people there are just so so nice.

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Shalloommm sleepy time

The people I was hanging out with were so open and welcoming. I mean my host did know me and gave me free range of his flat (and bed), introduced me to friends, and even let me me finish his box of captain crunch at 1am- soo nice.

5. Houmous is youmous

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ok not just houmous, but food in general.

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Benedict’s Shashuka is off the hooka

The food there is so glorious. Fresh ingredients, mixed in peculiar ways with loads of unique flavour combinations and textures.It is just so busy but so delightful. Its not all Shawarmas and Falafel but Shakshuka, Sabih, salads and so much more. You get food and youre just like, what is this? but it doesnt matter what it is because once find out its delicious no more questions are ever asked…ever

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Baked potato, hardboiled egg, hummus, tahini, pickles eggplant and assorted garnished in pita. Wierd? completely. Tasty? 100%

 

Alright, I know 5 for now seems pretty slim for someone so “excited”, but believe me its hard to narrow down what I experienced for a post.There is just so much good I dont know where to end, so I had to after so little…also I still have to write about the marathon experience-aaaayyyyyeeee

Needless to say, I am already looking

to book another trip.

So, chill. We’ll be back for more.

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UnTelaVivable view

 

 

Abroad to America

Abroad to America

Sorry for the post abscence, but my year has started off quite stressed. I had to go to America spontaneously for, unfortunately, a funeral. I had to go to my grandparents home in Alabama. It started out with a completely complicated flight but

Three countries and three layovers later

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I just get the feeling they are always trying to overcompensate for something…

I arrived in the home of the brave… on Inauguration day

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Definetly a yuge culture shock.

but luckily for me in my third layover I was greeted by a happy and familiar face

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Dallas welcome comittee

I got to visit some family during my Texas layover and got to take some off grandma’s fresh baked bread along to my final destination..

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“Please sir, its only banana, my grandma just baked it” -Aspen in airport detainment January 20, 2017

FYI dont ever take bread through TSA, they had a hay day,

but I was let go in time for my flight

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Dear DFW, Its been real, and its been good. but hasnt quite been real good

I arrived in Birmingham shortly after, and the events began.

To be honest. I am not the best with loss, and it was a very hard week. I am beyond thankful I am a runner, it was the best coping method I could have had to fall back on.

My grandma passed away and it brought up so many feelings from previous losses. My family is not so big and going back has always been hard. Luckily for me there was a great running track near my grandfathers house I was able to escape to in between runs around the neighborhood

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aka Shin splint city

I think I got in a good 28 km that week. It would have been more except for crazy southern thunderstorms. but I tried my best to get out whenever  the sky was moderately clear

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The trip as  whole was a good time for getting the closure I think I ultimately desired. My mind is still a bit distracted, but now that I am back in Munich I am my most happiest. I am so thankful I have found a place to call home and above all feel home.I can hop away to the mountains on the weekend or run around the city and work my way back up after a fall.

Whenever life gets hard, its good to be able to just go home.For me this is Munich.

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We never quite get over our losses. But I do believe we tend to absorb them and they carve us into different, often kinder creatures

 

 

Perusing about Prague

Perusing about Prague

” Youth is happy because it has had the ability to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old”

Franz Kafka

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I have read so many posts about how “magical” Prague is. Many people write about its “fairytale feeling”

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Guards at the entrance of Pražsky Hrad ( the castle)

I must admit, that even in a frosty snowy wonderland of weather, the city failed to give me these feelings.It was a bit of something else.

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FYI dear readers Praha is Czech for Prague

Prague stood out to me most due to its history. Dealing with the Nazi occupation of WWII and still coming out with most of it medieval old town still intact is a very impressive site to see.

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Famous Charles Bridge, connection old town to new

The city’s architecture mixture alone was one aspect I was pleased about; Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque

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designs are mixed together with a high dose of Parisian feel.

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Mainstreet New Town

Some areas of the city were a visual splendour

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Old Town under the castle

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and some provided the cozy atmosphere I so crave in my travel down time.

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La Bohéme Café in New Town

but as per usual I chose to admire all the river and rooftop views I could

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Superb sunrise on the Vltava river

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lucky for us, we arrived on the very last day of the Christmas markets

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With a massive decorate glimmering tree

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and even some sweet little furry friends

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With all these sweet views, came the sweet tourist trap that is

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Trdelník

A sweet pastry that is made from dough wrapped around a stick, then grilled and topped with a sugar and walnut mixture. It has a distinct wood and smoke flavour.Not entirely sweet but if you choose the modern version I did with nutella, its a pretty good taste combination.

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Modern takes on the treat include ice cream and other fun filling options

In the end to me Prague had a feeling of sweet melancholy.

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The tall building created endless hallways. The new was well mixed in with the old and the poor with the rich

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The culture and history does not hide.It endured generations of foriegn domination-the Nazi occupation and Communist rule. Once the Iron curtain cracked it became one of the first Central and East European countries to embrace the western culture.However with this came naturally the party seekers and their drunken exploits, tacky tourist shops and Tescos galour.

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Puppet shops in every corner

but the marvelous part was how enduring the character of Prague stayed. This city pushes to create a good integration of the old and the new. Making it unlike anyone I have ever been before.

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Central New Town sites

Even though it has these cultural and historical marvels I admire, I must admit it was not my favourite city. Perhaps because I enjoy lighter atmospheres, the food was not to my taste palette or I am too biased by previous experiences, I am not entirely certain. It was a good experience but I will choose to continue to head on to new places and most likely not head back too soon

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Five Fantastic tips to make your first half marathon miraculous

Five Fantastic tips to make your first half marathon miraculous

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My first half marathon on Paris Fall 2015

I find myself getting stuck half reminsicing about the old days as better days and the old days as worse. Sometimes I critisize myself and think ” I could be as good as I used to but am not” or ” I was so bad back then”

Stop Aspen, Stop.

I have learned from these habits that one should never think this way. The main motivation of running should be because you enjoy it and you feel good. So instead of continuing thr cycle I decided to use that energy and apply it to some positive motivation and advice for you wonderful readers!

Tip 1: Do not get involved with crash diets

I know most people assume to run a half marathon you need a “runner’s body” or to slim down, but let me tell you, if you are serious about getting to a certain level of fitness make sure you are doing it for the correct reasons. Basically feeling and not asthetics. I know people of all shapes and sizes who can run wonderfully and are trained in their own way to.One rookie mistake is thinking you must compare yourself to someone else and assuming what is fit for them is fit for you. This often leads to unhealthy and short lived diet choices. Listen to your body, find out what it needs and what you feel most comfortable with.If you are training regularly your body will tell you what it wants and needs and the results of your health will show. But if you find you are needing to reach a certain goal, look up long lasting lifestyle changes in dietary choices.

Tip 2: Avoid over indulgence

Another common food myth new half marathon runners believe is that because they are training then this means they can eat anything they want. Big big problem, no matter how much you are running if you constantly are choosing to treat yo self then your body will not be very happy.

Tip 3: Plans are not always accurate

Alot of places I see people posting specific running schedules to follow and saying they should be strictly followed in order to achieve ones running goals. This is reletively false. Everyones body is a little different and requires different training schedules. It is a good idea to make a loose plan-I like to be able to plan and track my progress- but remain aware what your body can handle. If today is supposed to be a long run on your schedule but you are feeling not 100% then modify the distance to what fits you best.

Tip 4: Over training is a real possibility

This I am living proof of. I pushed my self way too hard and fractured my knee..but don’t worry its not to say every over training case is so dramatic, but it is true it can be a hazard for your health and running well being. The most important thing to do is listen to your body. If you feel like it then do it, but if you dont then take a break. And always always have a good rest day!

Tip 5: Your ego is not your amigo

Above all, remember this is supposed to be fun! Don’t go comparing yourself to other or even to another version of yourself. There will always be good days and bad days, people who are faster or better or more in shape than you. Focus on what you want, work towards it and enjoy the small things on the way. Enjoy the present the look back at the progress youve already made on your goal.

Hopefully these little tid bits of information Ive learned along the way can help you keep on going, or start your journey well! I’ll continuinly add more, because there always is so much to learn as you add to your experiences.

Aspen is Abroad

Aspen is Abroad

Hello all, I’m Aspen.

Origionally  from California, but I was raised in Hawaii and until quite recently I have been a European resident.

Now you may be asking first off, “Aspen, why ever have you left Hawaii or California? both of those places are top destinations with wonderful cities with so many places you could also adventure in, not to mention  year round completely warm

Well my dear, this infact a great question and one I must for the rest of my life explain to confused Germans. Due to some unfortunate childhood situations I was put in a position of looking to start my life in a great wonderful elsewhere. I explored many parts of europe for around three years until my heart found its home in Germany. Now I am in a long term commited relationship with the state of Bavaria. We are both very happy and look forward to building a long happy life together.

I am an avid runner, hiker and recreational German language learner. This year I plan to run my first full marathon. Previously I have only done half marathons. Last year this was halted do to a fractured knee, but my kneehab is over and now I am heading in strong! So if you like bavarian mountains, distance running,  American razzle dazzle the inbetweens of living in southern Germany’s favourite city please do continue to keep in touch.

Welcome aboard, adventurers!

x Aspen