megan and travis, the sequel . . .

My favorite part of every summer is when Megan and Travis visit.  It started back when we lived in Miami and as thankfully continued as we’ve moved to Europe. We always have such an awesome time!  This year was particularly special because they are expecting! Can you say babymoon?  Since they visited last summer we had done a lot of the “must do” things around the area. This year, we took it off the beaten path and it was amazing.

Early into their trip, we visited the adorable town of Tubingen which isn’t far from here. We spent the day wandering the streets and eating local food. Travis spotted a sign to take us up a hill (this is why Matt and Travis get along) so, up we went, and we were rewarded with beautiful views from the castle courtyard.


The next day, we headed down to Switzerland in hopes of giving them a glimpse of the Swiss Alps. Sadly, it was pouring rain and gray but we did get a fun boat ride around Zurich out of it!


Towards the end of the week was where the long weekend of fun began. We went down to the Allgau region to the town of Nesselwang in order to give the Jesters a little glimpse of the German Alps. Matt and I stumbled upon this town last August when we ran our Alpine Half Marathon. We knew we had to come back  We stayed for two nights. We spent two days hiking different trails up and around the mountain and waking up to the sound of cowbells, from actual cows, outside. This is what you think of when you think of Germany. It was perfection.

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One highlight of the trip was stopping at Highline 179.  It is the world’s longest Tibetan style suspension bridge. It was terrifying. I don’t have a problem with heights (remember that time I jumped off the Stratosphere in Vegas) but even I was pretty shaken up on this journey.  We all stepped onto the bridge and all we could see was the swinging of the ropes from side to side.  Travis and I forged ahead while Megan and Matt turned around. It was such a windy day and the bridge was crowded and swinging side to side.  I thought I was going to have to turn around, too!  Pure stubbornness kept me going. All of these pictures were taken by me trying not to throw my phone down and hold on for dear life.


this is my “scared and faking a smile” face

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The bridge didn’t take too long so we all hiked around to all the ruins.  It was easy to spend an entire day in the area!

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Our trip ended in the Austrian Alps, in Innsbruck. It was gorgeous!  We wandered and we went up mountain. Megan and Travis are truly wonderful travel companions. We are so lucky to have friends who not only “get” us but also like the same things as us!

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family photo!

Also, I must say that my best friend is an absolute rock star. She hiked 11 miles one day, yeah, 19 weeks pregnant. Rock.Star. Three countries, seven days, and mountains upon mountains…I bet the baby enjoyed all that mountain air!

lovely lisbon . . .

Riding the high of all the music making, I got home late Saturday night, repacked, and hit the train in the morning to get to the airport to make it to Lisbon, for lunch. Talk about a whirlwind! That meant I was in 4 countries in 2 weeks. It was both exhausting and exhilarating.  I mentioned that Prague was insanely hot but what I didn’t mention was that the heat stretched through the week in Salzburg (no ac anywhere) and by the time we were in Lisbon, it had reached an all time high.  Thankfully, being near the water made it not seem too bad!

Lisbon is an incredible European city where tourism hasn’t completely overrun the city. For the first time in many trips, we were not knocked over by selfie sticks or mowed down by large tour groups. Go now, before everyone figures out how amazing this gem is!

Over the long weekend we followed the same plan as with all the cities…

We tasted local treats…


Portugal has some of the best wines at the least expensive prices!


The cheese…oh, the cheese….


more local wines

We walked around…


evening dining al fresco


beautiful squares


Christ the King Statue Inspired by the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio


We saw historical sights….


belem tower lisbon


we took selfies

…and Hard Rock.  Don’t judge. All expats know that Hard Rock just happens- and it had air conditioning!  Holla!


sweet, sweet, air conditioning- and ranch dressing and chicken tenders and nachos and…

Despite taking a walking tour and doing the Hop on Hop off Bus, we still didn’t get to do everything we wanted to do. Usually, a long weekend in a city is long enough to hit the highlights, but not for Lisbon. If you plan to go, take an extra day or two so you have time to really enjoy everything and see it all.  We did the free walking tour (pay with tip at the end) and it was fantastic. The guide told us so much history of the city and it helped us get acquainted with the neighborhoods. The tour guide also gives tips for how to see if a restaurant is overpriced (no more than 10 Euro an entree) and how much a bottle of wine should cost at the store (4 Euro, tops). Yeah. Did I mention Lisbon is not expensive? Take that, Paris!

So, Lisbon, we were so sad to leave but I know that we will be going back- and hopefully with a side trip to Porto!

orff summer course in salzburg . . .

As I briefly mentioned in a previous post, I had the wonderful opportunity to take the Orff Summer Course at the Orff Institute in Salzburg this summer. For one week I got to take classes with some of the best and brightest teachers of the Orff Schulwerk with amazing students and teachers from all over the world. Classes were held in English and I was immediately in awe of all the people, instructors included, teaching and learning in their second, third, or sometimes fourth language. I spent the week singing, dancing, and playing instruments. I sang in more languages than I thought possible and I learned fun dances from all over the world.

I also stayed in a dorm. That said, this wasn’t just any dorm, it was Schloss Frohnburg.  Yes, THAT Schloss Frohnburg.


“The hills are alive….”

You know… THAT one. :-)


nerd alert..


Obviously, that was the highlight of the week.  ;-)

I kid, I kid! Actually, the highlight of the week was spending each day doing my favorite thing, singing, dancing, and creating with awesome people from all over the world. We all may have been from incredibly different backgrounds, but we all spoke the same language that week.

Orff friends, if you get the chance, take the course. Hopefully I can go back next year!


first day of school pic!


prague . . .

Fourth of July weekend was a long weekend we didn’t want to waste. I was scheduled to begin the Summer Course at the Orff Instutute in Salzburg the Sunday after the 4th so we looked for cities within driving distance of both Stuttgart and Salzburg. The obvious answer; Prague!  We left on one of the hottest days of the summer in our car with a broken air conditioner. The ride was…hot. Thank goodness for the autobahn and windows rolled all the way down!

We made it to Prague and were staying in a great hotel near the center of the city. The only downside, like most places in Europe, there was no AC. Thankfully we aren’t completely foreign to hot summer days (thank you, Miami) so we were able to make the best of it.

Most of our long weekend was spent wandering around and staying cool at various watering holes. First up, U Fleku. U Fleku is a brewery and restaurant that has been around since 1499. Let that sink in. I must say that their over 500 years of brewing experience has paid off.  Servers come to your table and offer you beer (one kind) and liquor (honey or herbal). All of the beverages are delicious!

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Refreshed and recovered from the hot, hot, hot car ride, we wandered the streets and then came across Hemingway’s bar. Of course, we had to go in. Hemingway was a famous patron of this bar and he improved many of the recipes they had, and he created a few himself. We tried absinthe (not so good) and tasted a few of the other concoctions (all so good). One of the most memorable; this bacon thing.


Evening came and we wandered the streets a bit more taking advantage of the beautiful light and cooler breeze. The city is beautiful!


The next day was spent walking around, tasting more beers, and eating random local delicacies.


Astronomical Clock


Castle Church

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Castle Statue….

So many penises.


Peeing Statues outside the Kafka Museum


more tasting…when in Prague

We also found out through Facebook that our friends Lori and John were in Prague at the same time! Thanks to the power of the internet, we were able to meet up and have dinner and sight see a bit around the town. That’s one of the coolest things about living in our community. Everywhere you go in Europe you have friends who have already been there and have shared their secrets, or you actually run in to your friends while you’re there!

We left Prague and headed towards Salzburg where I was attending class. Matt noticed that the town of Budweiser was on the way so, of course, we wanted to stop and have a Budweiser in Budweiser. We drove through the back woods of the Czech Republic thinking, “Now we have a story that goes, ‘that time we were driving through the back woods of the Czech Republic.'”  It looked strangely reminiscent of a mix of West Virginia and Pennsylvania, but with less maintained roads.

After we got to the town of Budweiser, we quickly changed our minds about the beer.  You can’t tell from this picture, but Budweiser does not look like Busch Gardens, shocking. It looks like a town from a horror movie. Run down, dirty, sad billboards, the worst.  This isn’t where Budweiser is from, it’s just the namesake. We’re guessing someone said, “Hey, we’re making a Pils and Budweiser is near the town of Pils and this place is so terrible that no one would ever even know where we got the name from!” Awful. Much like Christmas, Florida! Two towns with such great potential with names.


Needless to say, we drove through pretty quickly. Matt looked at the map and noticed that, in contrast to the most terrible town on Earth, we could be at one of the most beautiful towns on Earth in less than 15 kilometers, Český Krumlov. It was beautiful and restored our faith in the Czech Republic.  The town has a breathtaking church and a moat that goes through the city. Since it was so hot, we saw all the locals taking rafts down the river. It looked like so much fun!


All in all, the Czech Republic didn’t disappoint. It’s also wonderful that we can be in Prague in a little over 4 hours!  This is a far cry from living in Miami where we couldn’t even be in Orlando in that amount of time. This is probably one of the best things about living here. I know we travel a lot, but people stateside need to remember that traveling here is much more convenient than traveling in the states with everything so close. We are so happy we got to squeeze another country in over the 4th of July.

matt and michelle go to mallorca . . .

Despite the raging heat wave we’ve been experiencing in Germany, the summer is coming to an end. I recently realized that it’s been quite a while since I’ve updated the blog. The main reason, we’ve been busy! I’m going to be teaching full time next year so our travel will be more limited in the next school year.  Because of that, we decided to go hard this summer. It was worth it!

We started our series of trips in June with a week-long stay in Mallorca. We stayed in the same little town that Megan and I stayed in last year. We had a great time taking it easy by beach, eating paella, hiking, and wine tasting.

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Most of the week was incredibly relaxing but the last day we had quite a lot of time to kill before heading to the airport so we drove to the little town of Valldemossa to see where Chopin lived for a while.  He’s one of my favorite composers so it was awesome to see where he lived and worked.

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After leaving Valldemossa we decided to take the “scenic” way back to Palma to catch our flight. The roads were not well maintained through most of the route but we were rewarded with some of the most breathtaking views I’ve ever seen in my life.

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20150617_143152All in all, it was an amazing 7 year anniversary trip!

Matt uploaded lots of great pictures to our online photo album. Check it out here!