Schleswig-Holstein: A Five-Day Nature Walk

While studying in Hamburg and taking a mix of classes at the university and also ones taught by Smith professors, I took a class called “Landscapes of Northern Germany.” The class was taught by Professor Kai Jensen, who, although employed now by Uni Hamburg, used to specifically teach the class for Smith JYA students. Kai also spent a year or two teaching at Smith in Northampton with his family.

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A Love Story

IMG_8505 Many love stories start out the way this one did. As I walked through the park this Sunday morning, I watched two dogs chase each other. The larger one ran just out of reach of the smaller, plump, couch dog as if to say, “Nah nah na naa nah!” The owner whistled, breaking my fascination with the dogs when I heard the same notes used by my mother. I thought about how I hadn’t been running, I hadn’t even walked through the park on a Sunday in many weeks. The bitter cold 25F/-4C temperature is not that inviting, but I’d forgotten all the things it gives you as it simultaneously takes away all your body heat. You see the families, the children shrieking, the runners, the dogs, the adults- all relaxing with nowhere specific to be or rush to.

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Day Trip: Salzburg, Austria

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With our EuroRail passes, we added a few extra days of travel so we could do day trips. We already had purchased Germany, Denmark, and Austria (and Ashton had France because she took the train to Hamburg first) so adding days of travel isn’t tooo much more expensive and was well worth it. In Sweden, we took day trips to Stockholm and Copenhagen with the train, and in Austria, we just took one to Salzburg.

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Enjoying Vienna

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“This is what animal withdrawal looks like”

Photos from around the city, our wine tasting at the apartment, and seeing the famous flying Lipizzaner horses. I wasn’t so sure about Vienna when we first got there, but after a few days I realized what a cool, different city it is and wished we had more time to explore the far corners. Continue reading “Enjoying Vienna”

New Years Day in Museumsquartier

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Art break in the museum at Cafe Leopold

New Year’s Day we designated for Museumsquartier (the museum quarter) because Vienna has so many amazing museums. Wikipedia puts it into numbers: “The Museumsquartier is a 60,000 m² large area in the 7th district of the city of Vienna, Austria; it is the eighth largest cultural area in the world.” Hence why Ashton wanted to make a day of it.

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Ringing in 2013 in Vienna

Our New Year's card photo
Our New Year’s card photo

We arrived in Vienna late Sunday evening and Monday was New Year’s Eve Day. Just the day before we had been cramped on the train for 23 hours and before that, we had had a cranky day in Malmö. So I suggested, being the German-speaker of the two, that I go grocery shopping and Ashton could stay home and have some space. So I set off in my fur coat and cloth bag in hand, not quite knowing where the grocery store would be but trusting my instinct and not being too afraid to use my German. Continue reading “Ringing in 2013 in Vienna”

An Afternoon in Malmö, Overnight to Vienna

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We set off from our little carriage house early and spent some time exploring Malmö before taking the train to Copenhagen and then taking an overnight, 23-hour train to Vienna via Frankfurt.

In Malmö, Ashton and I had our first cranky disagreement when we tried to find a restaurant in the city park. Continue reading “An Afternoon in Malmö, Overnight to Vienna”

Day Trip: Copenhagen

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From the Lund/ Malmö area of Sweden, Copenhagen is only a forty-five-minute train ride across the North-Baltic Sea bridge. From the central station, we found the visitor’s center (always a trick to find) and set off on the walking tour. The chill of Northern Europe was offset by the sun but magnified by the wind; the sights were magnificent. We made our way to Nyhavn to see the typical Copenhagen row of colored buildings on the canal and chose the best restaurant for the not-so-appetizing traditional Danish food (herring) before walking a few streets over to see the changing of the guard. Continue reading “Day Trip: Copenhagen”

Day Trip: Lund, Sweden

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Lund Cathedral at night

December 27, 2012: Took two buses a few towns over to Lund and explored the old culture and beautiful city. Definitely worth another visit.

From our cozy little carriage house near Staffanstorp to the city of Lund wasn’t far, but with the bus, it seemed pretty far. In comparison to distance and transport at home, it wouldn’t be much more different than driving versus taking the bus from Northampton (Massachusetts) to Amherst. Our day started before sunrise as usual, but that’s not hard to do in Northern Europe during winter, and began with a ten-minute walk through the silent hamlet,  we were staying in. The traditional stucco houses with clay tile roofs, enclosed by cute garden fences only 2-3′ tall, the little village was surrounded by fields for miles.  Continue reading “Day Trip: Lund, Sweden”

Christmas Day in Sweden

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With no other real reason to get up, I decided to attempt a Christmas breakfast; I had secretly bought gluten-free pancake mix the day before with the hopes of conjuring home holiday spirit.  Although it was nice to have something homey, the gluten-free blobs were extra tasteless without syrup or jam or home, so we made do with crunchy peanut butter, courtesy of Mrs. Fancy. The day wasn’t anything special, filled with hot chocolate, Christmas movies, relaxing, and a wonderful walk through the countryside before sunset around 3. The whole experience was surreal. We’d look at each other and say, “Can you believe we’re in Sweden? This is wild.” Continue reading “Christmas Day in Sweden”