Monday, December 11, 2023

Milan, Italy

Two nights before flying out I decided to spend the weekend in Milan. Although I told myself I was going to stay in the Netherlands for the remainder of December a cheap flight was calling my name. 

To get the cheap flight I had to spend all day at the airport Friday and again on Monday. My previous role made this impossible. I admit it was difficult to make the decision to change roles as I had worked my ass off learning to be a business consultant but this trip confirmed I think I am going to like this role. 


One of my goals while in Europe is to slow down. Work less. Turn off my computer at the end of the day. Not think about work on the weekends. I met a stranger on a train a couple weeks ago. We shared our stories and I shared this goal. I completely broke down crying. I have accomplished some amazing things in my life and working less is scary. Not because it defines me but because it is built into my soul and I am afraid of failing. But retirement is quickly approaching and I have to succeed. I succeeded this weekend!

I flew in Friday night and went out for pizza; as they say “while in Italy…” Saturday I walked around the city centrum and visited The Last supper painting by Leonard di Vinci. Amazing. It is located in a church refectory. Basically, a cafeteria for employees that do not get out much.


I went on a three-hour walking tour of the city and along the way visited the Sforzesco Castle. This thing is huge! 

I also visited the Galleria Vittorio which consists of some pretty bougie stores but also is an amazing structure. 

No visit to Milan would be complete without grabbing a Campari Spritzer and Negroni in the restaurant where Campari was first created, Camparino. 

Saturday night I ended the evening around the Duomo enjoying the beautiful structure, a cannoli, wine, and the sounds of Italy. 

Sunday I walked the city some more and had a ticket to ascend the Duomo. This structure of 135 towers that took over 600 years to build is just amazing. It is an iconic symbol of Milan and the Milanese are proud of it. 

Monday I spent eleven hours in an airport lounge working and feeling so fortunate for this life I have created for myself. Milan may not have been on my mind one week prior but it surely won’t be leaving it soon. 

Now maybe I can stay in Amsterdam for a few weeks. 


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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Düsseldorf, Germany

I jumped on a bus at 02:30 to check out the Christmas Markets in Düsseldorf, Germany. It was a cost-effective (€57) and efficient 24 hour journey. 

It took seven hours to get there, seven back, and I had nine hours in the city. Düsseldorf has eight Christmas Markets to explore. As you walk the city they just keep showing up. I would say there are some duplicate stalls but overall there is lots of variety. 

I started my morning with a rostbratwurst (unique sausage with a protected geographical indication under EU law) and Gluhwein (with amarettto). Yum. I guess my first stop was buying the mittens in this photo as my fingers have been so cold with my thin wool gloves. I had these as a young girl and my parents called them choppers. Great warmth for being outside in -2°c (28°f) for the day.

I jumped into a free walking tour and learned a few things. Most of the city was destroyed during the French Revolution as well as WWII so the city does not look or feel really old. 

Beer became a staple for Germans because the water was known to be unsafe, even children. As the night approached I stepped into one of the five original breweries that remains of the 120 that existed in the 1800’s. I had a goulash soup (think stew) that was amazing! The beers were small and with each new one the waiter would put a checkmark on your coaster. I had an apple strudel as well because “while in Germany…”

A couple vendors were roasting chestnuts, which line the streets in that canal photo you see above. I have been singing “chestnuts roasting by an open fire” for years and have always wanted to try them. The best part of them was this photo. They were disgusting. 

I returned to the bus a bit early as I was tired from only getting two hours of sleep and walking 19,000 steps (and having a few drinks). 

On the way home I continued to crochet the sock I started on my Copenhagen journey. It was a great day. I wanted to see some German Christmas markets and I would say that was accomplished. 

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Monday, November 20, 2023

Hamburg, Germany

My goal for moving to Europe was to explore during the weekends and this latest I went to Hamburg, Germany. My friends Jess & Tobias live there and I felt as if I was on an organized tour. Not only did they host me in their lovely home but showed me their city and shared so much history. It was amazing. 

Friday night we talked non-stop catching up and consuming a few bottles of wine. Saturday we took the train into the city. They are life-long residents and are so proud and knowledgeable about Hamburg. The city is beautiful, consisting of natural canals forming one of the largest port cities in Europe.

Of course the city has a difficult history to recall but it was interesting to hear how Germany has changed their governmental checks-and-balances following World War II. Saint Nicholas church was bombed and they left it standing as a memorial. There is something oddly beautiful about the burnt structure. 

It was easy getting in our steps as we transversed through the city. We stopped at City Hall where Tobi was once sworn in as a police officer and then for some wine. 

After a couple glasses we walked out to a beautiful view and made our way to the Red Light District where we consumed the holiday mulled wine, Gluhwein, and took in all the interesting sights. 

After pizza we made our way back home and I crashed. Sunday morning I woke to yet another lovely meal and we took the car to the beach. 

Next we visited the Elbe Tunnel which is amazing! It was built in 1907 to connect central Hamburg with the stockyards on the south. It was a technical sensation at the time with lifts to transport cars and people. It is beautifully maintained.

The weekend ended with me making my way back home. Jess & Tobias are only five hours away by car so I hope to see them soon!