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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

HEIDELBERG, GERMANY.


A main street in the old city.  We had coffee not far from here.
We spent one full day in Heidelberg.  Raf had workshop to attend -- so his mom, dad, and brother joined me for a day of adventuring while he worked!  It was about a two hour train ride from Freiburg, and again (along with all of the other mini train trips we took) very easy.  It was quite a bit warmer in Heidelberg than in Freiburg and we spent the whole day walking (a lot of walking!), but it was a very beautiful city.  One great thing about Heidelberg is that much of its architecture is intact, as it was one of the few cities not bombed during WWII.  Another is that is situated on the beautiful River Neckar.  The old city was fairly crowded with tourists, as was the castle.  I'm very glad we did so much walking because we were able to see so many (very different) parts of the city:  the old, the new, the university district.  They all had a completely different feeling.  We ate great food and had a lovely time strolling around the charming old city.  The only thing missing was Raf!




Awkward photo!
A tower at the entrance of the bridge across the River Neckar.
So pretty!
The best views and perfect clouds.
The bridge gate and towers.
View from the castle.
Tiny castle window.
Inside the castle.
I discovered linden trees/flowers in Heidelberg.  They smell amazing and now I love the tea the flowers make!
Gardens across the river from the castle.
Castle (taken from the gardens on the grounds).
Castle to the left, old city and river to the right.

View of castle from the bridge in the old city.
More river views!
Walking in/towards the university district before heading back to Freiburg!

BASEL, SWITZERLAND.


We spent one day in Basel, visiting a family friend who now lives there.  The train from Freiburg was about one hour, and it was very easy.  This was my first time in Switzerland.  One thing I noticed is how crazy expensive everything was.  At a restaurant we went to, a bowl of soup was 19 euros!  We ate at a Thai restaurant for lunch, and then headed back to Freiburg for dinner.  Crazy!  It was a lovely city though, and we had a great time touring around by foot.  The only downside is that we went on a Sunday and most things were closed.  The architecture was really pretty and quaint, and there was something peaceful about walking around on a quiet Sunday.  Oh, and I bought a lot of chocolate!






Lovers put their locks on this small fence like in Paris.

The old city hall was ornate and beautiful with cool sculptures.

Mural restoration on the walls in the courtyard of city hall.
Quiet streets.
An entrance to one of the old gates of the city.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

FREIBURG, GERMANY

Germany trip!!  Raf's brother moved to Germany last August and over the winter we planned a trip with his parents to visit this summer.  We went in June, and feel so fortunate to have had the chance to visit his new home with his partner and to meet her family in Freiburg, Germany.  Freiburg is beautiful and so very special.  I love that it is such a sustainable, environmentally conscious city.  It isn't touristy, and has the perfect mix of old city and new.  There is so much nearby and plenty to do for both the city lover and the outdoor adventurer.  We flew into Frankfort from San Francisco, and then took a train to Freiburg (I think it was about two hours, but I was TIRED).  After a delay and missing our connecting train, we finally arrived.  We had a bit of a difficult time finding our people once we were there, but after finding a Starbucks with wifi in the train station, we were finally able to meet up.  After settling into our apartment we were staying at, our host took us to have dinner with her family at a wonderful restaurant way up in the forest at a place called St. Ottilien!  The food was SO GOOD.  And seriously, it was way up in the forest.  Also, I must say, every single salad I had in Germany was perfectly and deliciously dressed.  I don't know what the secret is, but I keep attempting to recreate it at home...

This is what we ate at St. Ottilien, along with a really, really good salad:

Pfifferling (chanterelle) and brown mushroom  knodel (dumpling made from stale bread).  SO delicious!
Spinach and ricotta tortellini with arugula.
Raf in the Old City.

Old city.

The family walking through the old city gate with our new friend, Werner.

Pretty side streets.
On our second day we biked around the city and stumbled upon the most lovely cemetery:





Raf's mom biking along in the cemetery.

We also took a cable car up into the mountains of the Black Forest.  It was so beautiful.  Once at the top, we took a hike up to a lookout tower.  When we hiked back down, we stopped at the cafe that was located in the cable car building.  Our tickets included a hot beverage and a slice of cake.  Between the six of us, we tried 5 different cakes and split them (we double up on the black forest cake! :).  All of the cakes were DELICIOUS, and my cappuccino was perfect.  We happily took the cable car back down to the city to continue on with the day's adventure.  Which of course included watching the World Cup.  We got to watch a German game while we there and it was a lot of fun!

Going up!

Looking down from the car.

View from the lookout tower at the top.

Another view.

Yep, another view.  It was so serene.

Some silly (okay, lame) graffiti near our apartment.

One very cool place to go is the M├╝nsterplatz, which is the plaza around the cathedral in the old city. There is an open air market there (I believe every day except Sunday) where you can shop for produce, baked goods, and specialty items (herbs, soaps, etc.).  You can also eat lunch at one of the many wurst stands.  We ate tofuwurst (from a German company called Taifun) twice and it was ridiculously good.  We also went up to the top of the munster (cathedral) for a nice view of the city:





We did a lot of traveling in between our time in Freiburg (in Germany, France, and Switzerland), but more on that soon.   On our last night before heading home we ate at a yummy restaurant in a nearby city called Ihringen, Germany.  I don't remember the name of the restaurant, but their food was really good (and plentiful) and everything was garnished so beautifully.  Also (of course), the salad was delicious -- not too oily, not too vinegary.  Just perfect and maybe a little bit of lemon juice?  The soup below belonged to Raf's brother, but I had to get a photo of its loveliness!

The prettiest tomato soup.
It was awesome to have been able to travel, be with family, and to have such amazing tour guides who have now become our friends.  The best way to see a new place (especially in a foreign country) is with locals, and off the beaten (tourist) path.  I always, always prefer going to the places the locals go, whether that is a restaurant, a special hike, or for the best local beer.  What a wonderful, magical trip it was!
The view from one of the balconies in our apartment.

Friday, July 11, 2014

A QUICK RETURN TO BERKELEY & SAN FRANCISCO, CA.

This was our first trip back to the Bay Area since moving just shy of a year ago (a year has already gone by?!?!?)  Just like I thought it would be, it was bittersweet.  That place is just so full of magic.  The fresh air, ocean, colors, light, smells, plants, food...they are all just too delicious.  It was so, so special to be back, if only for a short while.  Very glad we got to spend time with as many friends as possible before we headed to Palo Alto for a work conference for Raf.  We had a few days in Berkeley and some San Francisco in between.  A little slice of heaven for a week.  Did I mention that walking into the produce section of my favorite grocery store (Berkeley Bowl) brought tears of joy to my eyes (and that like a couple of true crunchy folks we did two days in a row of acupuncture at our favorite community acupuncture clinic)?  :-)

A neighborhood fave: Berkeley Rose Garden

Republic of V, a new vegan shop in Berkeley.

Farmer's market rainbow.

The next few photos are from one of my favorite walk routes in the Berkeley Hills:




Hobbit-door entryway.

Birds of paradise.

Just a girl with some good light, shadows, and a backpack ;).

One of our favorite gardens in Berkeley.

Eucalyptus grove on campus.

Favorite palm tree in Berkeley.  Lots of sitting/journaling/thinking happened there.

So vivid!

Succulents for days!

Breathtaking view of Berkeley (with the fog rolling in at sunset) from a friend's roof.

Hike break at Tilden/Lake Anza with our dear buddy Dorothy.

Sweet pals Dave, Bridget, and Inna on the hike too!

Lake Anza.

Tilden <3.

Obviously Bumblebee thought my name was too boring.
 I only took one picture in Palo Alto:
Chillaxing at the pool in Palo Alto.

My friend Angela's apartment in San Francisco is so inspiring!  I love having creative friends!!  I could have walked around admiring her cool stuff/art for hours:

Kitchen wall.

Hallway with one of her beautiful photos blown up on the wall.

Kitchen bar cart.


Angela's office window.

Cool nook, creepy doll!  :)

Kitchen light.

I met up with some lady pals in San Francisco for a mini-adventure.  We came across some funny street art along the way:

Amazing!

Truth, haha.

Some sweet friends!
One last stop before the airport:  Coyote Point County Recreation Area for some views and ocean air before a long flight to Germany!  (more to come on that soon...)


SF in the distance.

One last look up into the eucalyptus trees.