lake lucerne switzerland

Lucerne, Switzerland: European Road Trip Part 4

Going on a European road trip/honeymoon with C was one of the best parts of fall 2015. We started off the trip in Colmar, France, then went south to Zurich, Switzerland, and drove through the Swiss Alps to get to Lago Maggiore, Italy. The last planned stop on our Euro trip was Lucerne, Switzerland (although we did take a surprise detour to Munich on the way home).

lucerne switzerland lake

Lucerne may not be the first city that comes to mind when thinking of Switzerland, but it is a beautiful city with a rich history. Although it was officially founded in 1178, it had been inhabited by monks since 750. It is home to the oldest covered bridge in Europe, the Chapel Bridge, which was built in 1333. Walking through the old town of the city was magical, I can’t get enough of historical areas. I hope that my recommendations and tips will help you have a great visit to Lucerne!

Lucerne

Hotel: Hotel Seeburg
lake lucerne switzerland

View from our balcony at Hotel Seeburg

I loved Hotel Seeburg. It was right on the water and we had a great view of Lake Lucerne from the balcony. There was even a military airshow over the lake while we ate our lunch outside, so it was a pretty spectacular afternoon. However, I would only recommend it to those who are traveling to Lucerne by car, otherwise you would have to take a bus into the city. It did not look complicated by any means, just a pain if you don’t have a lot of time in the area. The hotel also had the most adorable looking restaurant called Rigi Chalet, but it unfortunately was not open while I was there. I would love to go back and get to check it out.

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girl beach ocean

The Outsider Syndrome

Feeling like an outsider is an inevitable part of being an expat. For me, it often happens when I’m in a situation where I can’t communicate, and this has been occurring fairly frequently since I am a newbie with German language.

I try my best to listen and engage, but sometimes there is only so much you can do. At times like these, I occasionally feel like retreating to my bedroom, packing up my suitcase, and going home. It’s easy to think that home would solve all my problems. I could call up my best friends and forget about ever being the outsider.

Please don’t do this. All of us have this thought from time to time. And when this happens, take the time to really think about what going home would mean. We all leave home for a reason, whether it is for a job, a new experience, or a significant other. I left to not only be in the same place as my husband, but also because I wanted to live abroad. I was always dreaming about being in a new place when I was home.

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lago maggiore italy

Lago Maggiore, Italy: European Road Trip Part 3

This past fall, C and I were looking into possible European honeymoon destinations. When I saw pictures of Lago Maggiore, Italy, I knew we had found a winner. We ended up deciding to go on a Euro road trip, with our first stops in Colmar, France and Zurich, Switzerland. We then drove through the alps to get to Italy.

drive lago maggiore italy

Driving past Lago Maggiore

I cannot express how much I fell in love with Lago Maggiore. I already knew I loved Italy from previous trips, but this was beyond what I could have imagined. It also didn’t hurt that we went from cold weather in France and Switzerland, to the Italian sunshine. (Part of the lake is located in Switzerland, but we stayed on the Italian side.)

lago maggiore italy

First View of Lago Maggiore

If you are looking for an Italian destination beyond the typical touristy options of Rome, Florence, and Venice, then you are going to want to read more. I promise you will not be disappointed.

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shot glasses bar

Mexikaner Shot Recipe: A German Party Favorite

Germans love to party. That’s one of the first things I learned when I came to Germany to visit one of my best friends when I was 18. I actually went to my first ever club on that trip (it was quite the experience) and was shocked when we purchased beer to bring to an official high school party with teachers and parents present. Sneaking in drinks I understood, but blatantly drinking with adults was a lot for 18-year-old me. Life looks a lot different when the drinking age starts at 16.

Nowadays, I am still trying to keep up with partying abilities of my German friends. It takes a lot of skill to learn how to party until 6 am and still be able to function. I’ve also discovered my absolute favorite shot, a Mexikaner, which is a German party favorite. It’s basically like a spicy Bloody Mary. But if you don’t like Bloody Marys, fear not, I don’t like them either but I still love this shot. I promise that it will be a hit at your next party (or brunch!).

mexikaner shot germany

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zurich switzerland rooftops

Zurich, Switzerland: European Road Trip Part 2

In the fall, I went on a European road trip/honeymoon with C. It started in Colmar, France, and then we continued driving south toward Zurich, Switzerland, and then onto Lago Maggiore, Italy. We also stopped in Lucerne, Switzerland for another night on our way home to break up all of our driving. Both cities in Switzerland were quick stops, but I fully enjoyed getting to experience a new country, as I had never been to Switzerland before.

The absolute hardest part about visiting Switzerland was not breaking our travel budget. I really could not believe some of the prices, even McDonald’s was expensive. We did a lot of research before hand on reasonable restaurants, so I’ve included our choice in this post. Switzerland is certainly worth the visit, I just recommend planning in advance if you know you need to stick to a certain price range.

Zurich

Hotel: Guesthouse Anwandstrasse
hotel zurich switzerland

Guesthouse Andwandstrasse – Image Credit: http://guesthouse-anwandstrasse.hotelinzurich.net/en/

We booked this trip fairly last minute so we didn’t have many options of hotels. (This was before a friend introduced me to Hotel Tonight). Guesthouse Anwandstrasse was reasonably priced and seemed nice enough. Overall, I thought it was a decent hotel. If you are looking for a place to stay, my only complaint would be that it seemed to be in a sketchier area of Zurich and was around a 20 minute walk to the center city. Also, if you are planning on driving into Zurich, you may want to look into the ParkU App. Through the app, you can rent a parking space from someone for a set amount of time and a predetermined price. It was such a convenient way to park in a city where the parking prices were extremely high.

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Grocery Store Bananas

Trapped In A German Grocery Store

Today I got trapped in the grocery store. Yes, that’s right… the grocery store.

I was in line with C (my husband), when we realized that we had forgotten something. I went back into the store and when I returned it seemed like 50 people had gathered out of nowhere. I could see that C was almost at the register, but I wasn’t able to get to him without asking at least 10 people to move. Now on a good day, I would have bravely marched up to the long line and used my mediocre German skills to explain I needed to pass them. Unfortunately today I just decided to stop, stare, and panic.

Kaufland Germany Grocery store

Kaufland: A German grocery store

I attempted to get C’s attention but that didn’t work. Then I went to exit down another aisle, only to learn that in Germany the empty aisles are locked. When C finished checking out, he came over to the other side of the locked aisle and asked me what I was doing, to which I replied, “I have no idea.” I then had to go back through the entire store and exit through the entrance while setting off multiple alarms.

This was one of those days where instead of feeling like an expat, I felt like a big, green, alien that everyone was staring at and wondering where I came from. I think that is one of the most challenging and also rewarding experiences of life abroad. There are times when I can’t complete the simplest of tasks, like shopping at the grocery store or ordering at a restaurant. I have to allow myself to make mistakes, get messy, and learn how to live life in a new place.

Trust me, while no one wants to be that person who is constantly looking like a fool, it really is worth it. I’ve learned to laugh at myself and not take life so seriously. I’ve grown in ways that I couldn’t if I just lived in a place where life was easy for me. I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone and realized that I am capable of more than I ever thought was possible.

I know that I’m giving this sort of sad/funny story a happy ending, but the truth is that is how I feel. I would always choose this lifestyle, even if it means occasionally getting trapped in foreign grocery stores.

Do you have any funny stories of trying to complete simple tasks while abroad? I would love to hear from you!

sunset highway sky

Embrace Change: Step One of Expat Life

Change is scary.

And my life is currently nothing but change.

In the past six months I’ve changed everything from my phone number and my country of residence, to my marital status and even my last name.

Change greets me when I walk out the door and I don’t hear my native language. Or when I run out of my favorite beauty product and have to explore 10 stores to find something similar. When I go to sign a receipt, only to realize I can’t use the same signature I’ve had for years.

Some days I feel like I’ve gone through a rebirth. My life looks nothing like it did even just a few months ago.

But change is also exciting.

Moving to a new place means new opportunities, like going on a honeymoon road trip through six countries. Having a different last name feels like the creation of a new part of myself, like I can explore a piece of my identity that I never knew was there before. Learning a new language is a rewarding (albeit difficult) experience that has taught me a lot and challenged me to remain a lifelong learner.

Maybe that is part of the reason why I’m starting this blog. I want to document this season of change. The good. The bad. The reality of what life looks like when you move to the other side of the world.

So I hope you’ll join me on this journey. It’s going to be quite the ride.

city colmar france

Colmar, France: European Road Trip Part 1

After C and I got married, we couldn’t decide where to go on our honeymoon. So instead, we decided to see as many places as possible on a honeymoon/European road trip. The first stop on our list was Colmar, France, a storybook town just a five hour drive from our home outside of Düsseldorf.

colmar france canal

Here are a few of my favorite sites and eateries from the trip:

La Petite Venise

La Petite Venise Colmar, France

La Petite Venise

La Petite Venise is probably the most famous landmark in Colmar. Like it’s name, it certainly does feel like a miniature version of Venice, Italy. You can take a boat tour down the small river or eat along the water at one of the many restaurants. The area is so picturesque, I think I could have sat by the water all day.  The weather was a little rainy while we were there, so I didn’t get to eat outside or take a boat ride, but I did enjoy just walking through the area.

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