eurotrip 2014.

eurotrip 2014.

10 days. 2 countries.

Wished it was more like a bajillion countries in 10 days (Believe me! I've tried!), but the hubsterz had to lure me back down from Cloud 9. (Put up a bit of a fight on the way down, hah!)

But, but, but ... I kinda liked it on Cloud 9!

One of my travel dreams is to spend at least a year in Europe, hopping from country to country, spending my days photographing/exploring Old World beauty and nights dining/conversing with the locals. There's something utterly simple in this whole European lifestyle. And I'm totally head-over-heels in love with it. Quality of life, man.

In the meantime, I'll take Europe in small doses until that dream becomes a reality. I'm determined to beat my longest European cameo of 4 months!

Countless thank yous to the long-time Euro friends (Andy, Guil, Jan + Stef) for making this most recent Euro trip pounce unlike any other Euro trip experience in the past! It's a whole different ballgame when you personally see their world through their eyes and their words  right next to them. I felt like we were more than just passerbys. More like somewhere between tourists and locals. Hah! Thank you, friends from Ireland + Germany - y'all made us fall even more in love with your country!

Euro City 1 >>>  Dublin, Ireland.

Euro City 2 >>> Berlin, Germany.

Euro City 3 >>> Tübingen, Germany.

besos ... jin.

 

GERMANY 2014 // Tübingen

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>>> 7 years ago in Spain. 

Jan and I were the only ones left in the residencia, it seems, oh, for all of September. With everyone back to their respective countries, our evenings were pretty much spent at the local pub having epic conversations about everything and anything. Seriously. Everything and anything.

(We had a friendly debate over the difference between deer and moose and elk and reindeer. Theories got more absurd the more we drank. And at the same time, things oddly made sense. Like, whoa.) Well, one random night at the pub, Jan (or I?) had this epic idea of trying every beer on the menu. All 70+ cervezas. But Jan only had 3 weeks left before heading back to uni in Tübingen.  That means 3-4 beers a night. Every night. For the next 3 weeks. I can't hang with that amount of beer, but because Jan is German and Germans love beer ... Challenge accepted. And that's how we became regulars at Erasmus pub.

Needless to say, I had tons of practice with the German tradition of

'Prost!'.

>>> June 2014 in Austin.

Commence the initial stages of Eurotrip 'planning' by Jin, which involves hitting up a few old friends / fam bam living in various parts of the Deutschland and giving them heads up that we're on our way. (Ends Eurotrip planning by Jin, lol.) Jan responded right away:

" ... if you're ready to make the journey -  fairytale castles, one of the finest medieval old towns in Germany and our warm hospitality wait for you." - Jan

Wow. Tübingen sounds even smaller than what Jan had described it 7 years ago! It also sounds oddly like Salamanca ... and exactly the quaint Germany I was looking for. Can't wait!

>>> August 2014 in Tübingen.

So everything about Tübingen was beyond phenomenal, all thanks to our awesome hosts, Jan and his wife, Stef. From getting personally picked up in Stuttgart to their tour guide prowess (and eagerness!) to their incredible hospitality. (So many memories to mention just in their tiny, cozy home! They offered us their bed, prepared fresh breakfast + coffee every morning on their patio, cooked intimate dinners, showed Vince how to make spaetzle, taught us a German card game - all from the comforts of their home!) I now see why Jan ended up in Salamanca all those years ago. Tübingen IS the German version of Salamanca. Only colorful.

And just like Salamanca, Tübingen is incredibly rich in medieval history, utterly simple in lifestyle, and picturesque all around. There are only a few places in the world that I can call surreal. Tübingen is def on that list.

On the last full day in Tübingen, I had tried to keep my birthday under wraps and almost got away with it until dinner time - after a full day of castle hunting and brewery hopping - when Jan actually checked his FB. (From what I remembered from my ole German roomies, Germans have their own version of FB.

But I didn't get that memo that FB sued StudiVZ a few years back. D'oh.)

'Jiiiiin? FB is telling me your birthday is today??!'

Zang. So close. So after dinner, Jan and Stef 'surprised' me with a pretty impressive (and catchy!) German birthday song and presented me with last minute German chocolates in lieu of a birthday cake. What I am surprised about is that there are FOUR German birthday songs.

FOUR!

Imagine my befuddlement when Jan and Stef said they couldn't decide what song to sing! Wow. I must say. That was pretty awesome. It's been 7 years since the last I've spent my birthday in Europe. Both times, coincidentally, Jan was there! Full circle!

But the Eurotrip adventures didn't stop there. Like almost all our flights back to the states from Europe over the past 8 years - we ran into a snafu. Nothing like having Jan hook us up with an Autobahn card, become temporary unofficial German residents til the end of 2014 to get that card (Good to know we have a home in Germany for the next 3 months, haha!), wake up at 3am, get Jan to drive us to Stuttgart, catch a 5am train ride into another country, make multiple transfers in between, and miraculously end up in Brussels. Just so we can catch our 10a flight over the pond. Whew!

Another memorable Eurotrip in the books! Huzzah!

Jan and Stef : we are most definitely looking forward to y'alls visit to Texas - hopefully in the near future! - and return the same high-standard hospitable kindness that y'all have bestowed upon us! Seriously, you two are amazing hosts!

Danke for every generous detail! Let us know if y'all need a recommendation on Trip Advisor ... 'roomies'. Oh, and there are tons of PAYDAYS here in Austin. No bribes. Just sayin'. =P

besos ... jin.

GERMANY 2014 // BERLIN

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Hipster. The one recurrent word our European friends have used to describe this city. I ain't gonna lie. I was a lil iffy at first, ya know, coming from a hipster town meeself. But then I set foot in this city aaaaand it's worth the hype that everyone has raved about. Total opposite of Communist anything. Berlin is vibrant, hip, happenin'. Hard to believe the Berlin Wall fell only 25 years ago! In my lifetime! I remember as a wee 9 year old watching the events unravel on TV. Mind blowing stuff.

If anything, Berlin is resilient. Which became very apparent when V and I met up one of my old neighbors from the Spain days, Guil, who recently moved to Berlin from Sao Paolo and moonlighted as our tour guide. I'm gonna digress a bit, but I haven't seen this dude in 7 years! He'll always have a special place in my memory during my life in Spain, being one of the first people I've met in Salamanca and one of the few who've stuck around when everyone went back to their respective home countries. We've had many a crazy nights chugging down chupitos at the local pubs and lazily drinking in front of a church and then drinking some more at our residencia. But I don't want to give the impression that we've drank a lot (just half the time =P). Fundamentally, everyone bonded over their own unique life experiences from all corners of the world during these gatherings. And that, there, is really the beauty of why I love meeting fellow travelers while traveling. Chances are you're going to meet someone who's in the same boat as you, constantly roaming the world searching for something more. More than what the social convention expects of you. Shared life stories of these fellow life wanderers reflects that. I'm in awe and inspired by these kindred spirits.

Guil is truly a kindred spirit of that very kind.

So with Guil practically a Berliner, we set forth on a cray-cray foot tour around town, hunting down currywurst and iconic street graffiti and remnants of the GDR. I swear we must've circled this town TWICE. Which is not an easy feat considering Berlin is HUGE. There are times the old Communist influences are still very evident and others like it had never happened. It's really befuddling and curious at the same time. But one thing's for sure, Berlin is a better, happier place. A city where one can easily roam its streets and find an artist's haven. A place I would come back just to explore more of its strong-willed history and perhaps seriously live in if I had the option of moving back to Europe (I wish!)

Guil - You're always welcome here at Casa de Chu-Ferrer. From one hipster town to the other, you'll love it here in Austin. We'll even take ya up on that dog-sitting offer if that's what it takes for ya to get here. Let's not wait another 7 years! ;-)

By the way, I must really mention how awesome The Generator hostel was (is!) during our 4-5 day stay in Berlin. How awesome? Let's just say it's been awhile since we've stayed at a clean, brand spankin' new, accommodating, insanely convenient, trendy hostel - not since Thailand 2009. Stay there if ya ever in Berlin.

besos ... jin.