Well here’s a pleasant pivot from my last post. My boyfriend Sam and I have happy news (usually this statement is followed by an engagement announcement or pregnancy reveal — not yet world, not yet). The news is……..we’re going to Germany!
Since returning from Europe after graduation in 2015, and subsequently realizing I didn’t have the funds to move abroad as planned, I vowed that the next opportunity I had to visit Europe, I’d go to Germany. While I’ve visited 11 countries in Europe to date, I’ve somehow circumvented Germany every time. There is so much allure in the rich history, the castles, the Romantic Road, pretzels, Oktoberfest, Rhine River cruises… (Yep – all I know of Germany is the traditional, stereotypical German icons. But that’s why I need to go there to experience authentic German culture.) And I was *this* close to realizing this dream last year.
It was a few days after Christmas 2015 that I was getting my plans together. I had finally accrued my whopping eight days of vacation for the year and could take time off. I had chosen my travel dates, filled my Pinterest board with allllll kinds of Germany travel tips, and identified the hostels and AirBnBs I would book. I’d fly into Berlin, spend a few days there, and then head to Cologne for another three to four days before moving down to Munich.
As I was organizing my itinerary on Tripomatic, I heard a little electronic chime and looked to read the news update on my phone:
Yikes. Not good. I poured over the news coverage and read witness accounts of the attacks across the exact cities I wanted to visit. For those who may not remember, there were more than 1,200 reports of organized sexual assaults on women in open, public places across Germany, especially in Cologne, over the course of a few hours.
Had that been the week I was there, I would have been a prime target — tourist, female, alone, likely meandering through the train station or major plaza… mhmm. And I’m not one to often be perturbed by news like this. Horrendous events happen all over the globe, all the time, even in our own backyards, and we live our normal lives. But something about the proximity of these attacks to the exact locations on my itinerary was unsettling.
Choosing safety first, I went to Australia instead.
Alas, one year later, with the chaos subdued and my fears subsided, I’m finally going to Germany. Excuse me, we’re going to Germany. This is the first international trip my boyfriend Sam and I will take together and it’s an exciting milestone in our relationship. Naturally I’ve chosen one of the three European nations Sam has already visited, but he was in Munich for only two days three years ago and there will be plenty of new gems for us to see and discover together.
I am fortunate to have a flexible job with an accommodating boss. My position is project-based position, I can take off work as long as my absence doesn’t affect a deadline. I talked to my boss about the trip and told him the dates I wanted to take, and he consented without hesitation (Hallelujah!). Sam’s work was more difficult to work around but after enduring months of my unrelenting nagging, he asked his boss for PTO and was cleared.
We’ll be gone the first week of April. With the blessing of work flexibility, I was able to squeeze in a more days than Sam could, so I’ll fly out two days earlier for a total of 10 days in Germany (and a bonus day in Iceland!). My next post will cover how we’re managing the trip for less than $1200 each, so I’ll save those details. In summary, we found very cheap flights and great deals on hostels and intercity transport.
I’m known to often use the phrase “excited doesn’t begin to cover how I feel!” to talk about upcoming travel, and as much as I want to use my beloved platitude again, I’ll forgo it for something with more depth. Indeed, I am excited. I’ve been bugging Sam to go on a trip together since we started dating more than a year ago so he may experience budget travel the way YBT does it. And during that time, he’s had to deal with miserable, mopey Alexis prattling about her adoration for Europe and unquenchable wanderlust. Finally, he’ll get to see me in my element, happy as a freaking clam (I hope), doing that traveling thing I’m always so keen to talk about. It’ll be good for us.
Layered on that is my hope that the trip will rejuvenate my spirit. I remember returning from my month in Spain during which I cherished every little detail about the terrain, architecture, people and experiences and applying that sense of discovery to my environment at home. I began to question the history behind those run-down buildings I usually overlooked on my way to class; I photographed certain scenes I would have before found mundane; I found tranquil spots on benches in D.C. to people-watch for the simple joy of observing cultural behaviors; I hung out with new groups of people to satisfy a curiosity about others’ backstories, beliefs and routines. Those were habits I had developed traveling abroad and by filling my soul, they carried me through the rest of undergrad. I don’t mean to say I expect this 10-day trip through admittedly the most touristy parts of Germany to change my life — but I think that leaving LA for a while and doing something I love will make me more inclined to appreciate the nuances of this smelly city when I return. We. Shall. See.
In my next post, I’ll share our money-saving tips for booking the trip and probably ramble more about my excitement. So I’ll end here. Let’s just say you should expect a surge of posts in the coming weeks covering our plans, travel stories, and reflections on the trip, which I pray will be good ones.
‘Til then, travel well.