We’ve officially been back to Michigan for five months…the same amount of time we lived in Germany. They say time flies when you’re having fun. Apparently time also flies when you’re living during a global pandemic. Not too long ago we were sipping glühwein at German Christmas markets and now we’re back home enjoying summer in Michigan.
Here are 8 things we miss about Wiesbaden:
1. The Charming Downtown Area
Wiesbaden is such a lovely city. It has a welcoming ambiance that made us feel at home almost instantly. One of our favorite parts of living abroad was taking the 20-minute walk downtown to stroll through the city, discover the local sights and sounds, and enjoy delicious food and drinks. Wiesbaden has the charm of a traditional German town with the liveliness of a larger city.
2. Traveling to New Places
Traveling has always been one of our favorite things to do. It was a surreal feeling to be able to hop on a train and travel almost anywhere in Europe. Our travels included spontaneous day trips to new cities as well as week-long adventures through multiple countries. We got to visit so many new places while living abroad…some that we had never even heard of before. Our favorite places included Ljubljana, Slovenia, Zagreb, Croatia, and Lucerne, Switzerland. We are so grateful we had the opportunity to explore so much of Europe before the border closed.
Planning a bachelorette party during a pandemic is no easy feat.
Several months ago (pre-covid), my sister decided on a wine-themed bachelorette weekend in Northern Michigan. As the MOH (and someone who has experience planning events for a living), I was in charge of bringing the party to life.
Getting together my sister’s closest friends and family to drink wine in Traverse City should have been a piece of cake…until COVID-19 made its way to lovely Northern Michigan. When you’re dealing with a global pandemic, there’s more to coordinate than matching tanks and ‘how well do you know the bride’ games.
Despite a few changes to the plans (and a few less RSVPs), the bachelorette party was a weekend to remember full of love, laughs, and vino.
Today marks 365 days of wedded bliss. It feels like just yesterday we were saying “I Do” surrounded by loved ones. This first year of marriage was full of excitement and new adventures. We celebrated our honeymoon in Italy, lived abroad in Germany, and visited 10 different countries together. We also learned how to adapt to life in quarantine…and got super comfortable spending 24/7 together. I can’t believe a full year has gone by already!
Once Upon A Time…
We got married on June 1, 2019 in our happy place, Charlevoix, MI. Ryan has been visiting Charlevoix since he was little and it quickly became a favorite weekend getaway spot for us. Ryan proposed in our other happy place, Disney World, so it’s only fitting that our wedding reception took place in a castle…Castle Farms. I wore a princess ballgown, sparkly heels that would make Cinderella jealous, an elegant cathedral veil and the necklace that my Nonie wore on her wedding day.
We had so much fun planning our wedding and adding special touches like homemade coasters featuring our own Charlevoix photos, a vintage key place card display, and Tinder photo booth prop…taking us back to where it all started. Velvet and sequin linens complemented the Castle’s stone walls and farm tables lined with greenery and gold candlesticks added a warm glow to the room. We danced the night away and said farewell to guests with a final dance to “Kings & Queens” by Mat Kearney. Our romantic fairytale wedding was absolutely perfect and we wish we could relive this special day over and over again.
Cheers to our first year of happily ever after…we can’t wait to add another chapter to this fairytale!
Today we’re traveling to Ljubljana, Slovenia. A place full of energy and charm. Ljubljana’s Old Town is home to 17 bridges that traverse the Ljubljanica River. This up-and-coming European city is a hip version of Venice without all the crowds.
Wine tasting isn’t just about the wine – it’s the whole experience that counts. Tucked away on a quiet street in Budapest is an adorable wine shop and tasting room called the Tasting Table. With less than 24 hours to spend in Hungary’s capital city, we still managed to find time for wine.
This was the one of many wine tastings during our 10-city tour through Europe last winter. Eating and drinking our way around new cities is one of our favorite parts of traveling.
Wine has not always been our drink of choice but that quickly changed in recent years. We’re not quite to sommelier status yet but we like to think we know our way around a good bottle of wine.
Let me start by sharing how we got from boxes to barrels.
Erica’s Journey Into Vino
It took me a while to develop a palette for wine. I didn’t understand how a liquid could be considered ‘dry’. My first drink of choice was, sadly to admit, Burnett’s. I then progressed to something fruity and predictable like cranberry vodka with a splash of sprite. Beer was never on my go-to list. I occasionally drank Blue Moon or Soft Parade, but never got into domestic beer except for one time in college when that was the only available beverage at a party so my friends and I pretended like it was water in a desert.
Sometime in college, I slowly started drinking white wine…Pinot Grigio from Italy or Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. I also hopped on the Rosé bandwagon, gravitating towards the crisp variety from Provence. My first venture into red wine was 19 Crimes Red Blend, a birthday gift I received when I turned 20something. From that day on, red wine has always been my go-to drink.
Ryan’s Journey Into Vino
Ryan’s love for wine took even longer to develop. His favorite alcoholic beverage was always beer…the standard frat boy staple. Ryan was just as happy chugging Coors out of a Keg or sampling new craft brews.
It was during our honeymoon in Italy when Ryan discovered his appreciation for fine wine, especially Italian reds. We were introduced to Brunello at a villa in Tuscany and haven’t looked back since. We enjoyed two bottles in one night and woke up the next morning with no hangovers in sight. Red wine quickly moved to the top of Ryan’s drink list too.
Yes, it is possible to visit Germany’s capital in one day…a half day to be exact. We took an early morning train from Hamburg to Berlin and hit the ground running.
Our first stop in Berlin was the Reichstag Building, the meeting place of the German Parliament. We snapped a few photos from the vast green space in front of this historic building before continuing on our high speed journey by foot.
Next up was the famous Brandenburg Gate. This 18th century monument once symbolized the division of Germany, and now signifies peace and unity. It truly is an iconic landmark.
Even though none of us are allowed to actually travel right now, we can still take mental vacations. So sit back, relax and join us on an action-packed two days in Hamburg and Berlin. With only one free weekend to spare before moving back to Michigan, we knew we had to pack Germany’s two largest cities into one journey. We’re becoming real pros at this whole one city (or country) per day thing!
Ryan and I don’t like to sit still. Some people joke that we do more in a weekend than they do in an entire month. Our German friends think we’re a little crazy for visiting so many places in such a short period of time.
But when you have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live abroad and traveling from country to country is as easy as hopping on a train or bus, you make the most of it.