Picture it: Italy, summer of 2006. I was a fresh-faced college student who decided that I wanted to study abroad for a summer. Why just a summer? It’s a decent commitment–if I hated it, it’s not too long; if I loved it–it’s not too short. It was my first time abroad and I did it all alone. I was off. To Rome.
This week’s Foodie Friday features apfelstrudel. You absolutely cannot go to Austria without eating apfelstrudel–a delicious concoction of flaky dough, apples, cinnamon and sugar, and served with a side of vanilla ice cream (or custard or sauce).
Innsbruck is too cute for words. It’s one of those towns that I just want to hug. Next to Prague, Innsbruck was the place I was most looking forward to seeing, mostly to see the Altstadt (Old Town).
I’m not new to mountain ranges; I grew up in the Appalachian area and spent many a summer in the Great Smoky Mountains. So, I thought I had an idea of what I was getting into when I headed to the Alps. Only, when I actually saw the Alps, I realized how different they were than everything I’d previously associated to the word “mountain”.
This week’s Foodie Friday features.. wiener schnitzel. While this is technically an Austrian (Viennese) dish, I ate it in Germany (I was close to the Austrian border, okay?). This was my first foray into the world of schnitzels, and more poignantly, into the world of veal (more on this later).
If you’d asked me before my recent trip to Frankfurt, I would’ve guessed that it was a larger city than Köln, but it is in fact the fifth-largest in Germany (just after Köln). Still, it feels much larger and more city-like to me. To be honest, that’s not necessarily a great thing in my book. I liked Frankfurt, but I was sort of bored by it too. Much of it felt very generic and anonymous to me–like it could’ve been a city found anywhere else in the world. It wasn’t until I saw Altstadt (Old Town) that it actually started to feel German to me.
The first real stop on my European roadtrip was to Köln (Cologne). Köln is Germany’s fourth-largest city and is home to the Kölner Dom, or Cologne Cathedral, which was the main purpose of my visit. (There’s much more to Köln than the Dom, but I plan to save that for the World War II tour I’m hoping to take next year.)
Possibly one of the strangest things I’ve ever encountered while traveling is that the Dutch like to eat hagelslag (sprinkles or jimmies) on their buttered bread for breakfast. The first time I saw this was when I lived with a Dutch roommate in Rome. One morning, she broke up a loaf of Italian bread, smothered it with creamy butter, and dumped on an outrageous amount of hagelslag.
So, I have a confession to make: I’m kind of an old lady. And up until probably two years ago, whenever I’d travel I’d totally wear myself out by the time dinner rolled around, which meant that I was missing out on most cities after dark. I’m not much of a partier or club-goer, so the “nightlife” part of a city is rather lost on me (though, if we’re talking cocktails in a lovely bar, I’m totally in). It wasn’t until I started seeing others’ photos of cities at night that I realized I was missing out on something special, because really, seeing a city at night can totally change how you feel about it and can make you appreciate other little parts of it.
Amsterdam (and pretty much the whole of the Netherlands) is one of those places where you sort of always have to be prepared for what the weather might be like. When I pack to go there, I’m always certain to bring cold- and rain-friendly clothing, as well as one or two items in case the sun decides to pop out. I’d rather be prepared than grossly underprepared for any situation. It’s good to pack boots, rain shoes, or any other kind of waterproof shoe just to be safe. Scarves are also a great addition–easy to throw in your bag when you don’t need it, but you’ll be happy when you do need it.