Thursday, January 19, 2017

Oh, The Places You'll Go!

One of the things we were most excited about when we moved to Germany was that we were going to be so close to so many amazing places. Rome may be 15 hours away by train, but when we lived in Cleveland, we were 12 hours from my hometown so what's the difference? We'd be a hop, skip and a jump away from EVERYWHERE! We didn't think it was going to be likely to see lots of places on our list, but we mentally planned on a few small trips when possible.

A mindset we adopted when we moved to Cleveland was to make the most of wherever we were. We're not perfect at this, and sometimes we just don't have the money needed to make that happen, but ever since we moved there, we've tried to adopt this. In Cleveland, we made a "bucket list" and filled it with places to eat (there is so much good food in Cleveland and we barely scratched the surface), places to see, things to do. Thanks to some amazing friends who are die-hard Clevelanders, we got to do a lot of the things on our list and though we only lived there for 22 months, it feels like we got a lifetime of amazing friendships and memories.

Tallahassee is a little less amazing, frankly. It's very pretty and it's a nice place, but it's a lot smaller than Cleveland and hasn't really hit its peak yet. Our bucket list for our time in Florida therefore included a lot more than just Tallahassee. We added Disney World, Jacksonville, the Gulf Coast, Miami, the Keys - and there are lots of things left on that list because Florida is pretty big, and those things take better planning than we were doing. When we move back, we do intend to get moving on those plans but so far, we've seen a lot of the state, made a ton of beach trips, tried some great local foods and events (we LOVE Food Truck Thursday and I miss the gyros from the Valhalla Grill).

So, when we moved to Germany, we already had the "do as much as we possibly can" mentality. We thought that realistically, since we're living on one really limited stipend, we'd be able to go to Amsterdam, since it's less than three hours away, and maybe hit some bordering countries. If you've followed along at all, you know that we've been able to do so much more than just that. In our first month here, we traveled to Austria, spur of the moment, and had visited a plethora of other cities in Germany. We were surprised by how inexpensive some tickets were on budget airlines, and so we were able to see several countries in 2016. This wasn't the original plan, but our super long term bucket list which includes so much unrealistic travel got a little more reality.

Sometimes we will browse RyanAir or Google Flights and find an amazing deal and decide to just go for it. Even though most of these are booked for less than the gas it would take to visit say, Miami and cost less than a day at Disney World, it feels just a little insane to go so many places, and I think it looks SO extravagant online. We know though that traveling across the ocean to go to Barcelona would be a lot more expensive than our two hour budget flight and we would probably have to wait decades to book one of those amazing two week European Cruises (my dream trip). So we try to be wise about it and cut back where we can, and not go crazy with spending while we're traveling.

We also want to embrace where we are, and to make the most of our time. Sometimes that's been a really solid focus on building relationships or getting to know one specific city. When we were in Marburg we were able to make some amazing friends, who you've seen pop up in our travel posts since then. That opened doors for us to visit places like Bulgaria, with an amazing group of people, both building those friendships and climbing mountains. Our time in Munster has not afforded us local friendships yet, but it has given us the opportunity to see more of the world. We're embracing it for now, and we are so thankful to have the chance to live abroad and expand our view of the world.

And eat tapas. And drink Gluhwein. And to maybe see the Eiffel Tower?*

*This is a trip that is not yet booked but we want to try to make it happen

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