2022 in Review

2022 was definitely a year of travel! My first trip was in late Jan/Feb for almost a month in Honolulu, Oahu. Although I went by myself, I had lined up a few dates through online dating and also went to a couple of Meetup.com happy hours. It was a nice escape from the winter here in Northern Kentucky.

I left in early April for almost three months in Europe, 5 countries, 21 accommodations, with 18 day trips. It was a trip of a lifetime! When you travel solo, you tend to meet people more easily. I met a man at the beach in Mykonos, Greece and had dinner with him, a man and his family from a Facebook Europe travel group in Colmar, France, another lady from the same group in Colmar, France, and was invited to a friend’s country home in Chania, Greece.

I started in Rome for six nights with day trips to Tivoli and Orvieto. (Photo at Villa d’Este, Tivoli, Italy)

I traveled by train most of the time. Next I spent seven nights in Spoleto with day trips to Perugia, Assisi, and Spello. (Photo in the town of Spello)

My next destination was Florence where I spent eight nights with day trips to Siena (photo below), Lucca, and San Gimignano.

With nine nights in Paris, I was able to take day trips to Rouen, Versailles, Chartres, and Troyes (photo below).

Rouen shown below

During my five nights in Tours, France I took a shuttle bus to see some amazing Chateaus: Villandry (the gardens)…

Azay-Le-Rideau…

Cheverny…

Amboise, Chambord, Clos Luce, and Chenonceau.

I also had my hair colored/cut and had a spectacular 90 minute massage!

The seven nights I spent in Colmar, France were some of my favorite. It’s a magical place.

I took day trips to five quaint towns surrounding Colmar: Riquewihr, Kayserberg-Vignoble, Ribeauville, Equesheim, and Turckheim.

I also took a day trip from Colmar to Strasbourg, which I loved!

I began my time in Germany with five nights in Freiburg Im Breisgau (Black Forest) with day trips to a couple of area lakes. My Airbnb host let me borrow her bicycle which I rode often. I also went to a day spa with indoor/outdoor mineral pools.

Next, I made the journey through towns along the Romantic Road and spent one night each in Wurzburg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Dinkelsbuhl (photo below), Noerdlingen and Augsburg.

The last stop was in Fuessen for two nights. The Neuschwanstein Castle is located here. The first photo was taken while on the uphill walk to the castle…

I flew from Munich to Mykonos where I spent four nights.

Then took a ferry to Santorini for three nights.

To finish my Greek Islands experience, I flew to Chania, Crete, and spent three glorious days.

Next up was Switzerland…I flew to Zurich, took the train to Lucerne and spent two nights.

I backtracked and spent three nights at Lake Como, visiting Varenna, Menaggio and Belaggio (photo below).

I spent eight additional nights in Switzerland and discovered it’s my favorite European country! The hiking is amazing!

Took the Bernina Express Scenic train to St. Moritz for two nights. (Photo taken from a hike)

Took the Glacier Express Scenic train to Zermatt for two nights. (Photo taken from a hike)

Spent four nights in Lauterbrunnen (Photo taken from a hike)

In September I took a 10 day road trip through Michigan, Traverse City, Taquamenon Falls State Park, Marquette, Munising in the Upper Peninsula, and Mackinac Island. My dear friend Sherry joined me for the UP and Mackinac. (Photo: Pictured Rocks Boat Tour)

In October, a friend and I drove to the Smoky Mountains and hiked for a couple of days.

Finally, in December I found an inexpensive ($160 including luggage) flight to St. Petersburg, Florida and rented a beautiful Airbnb for 10 days. A new girlfriend joined me for part of the trip.

The holidays are rough for me since my husband and only child passed away a few years ago. I don’t contemplate suicide like I used to. I’m getting used to living alone. On Christmas Day I had brunch with my brother and his wife and then went to a get-together at a girlfriend’s home.

A few other things to note: I had my bathrooms and kitchen remodeled and after a six month break from online dating, joined five sites and have gone on too many first dates to remember ūüôā I also joined a health club and have been working out pretty regularly.

I’m writing this on my deceased son’s birthday. We named his Justin, because he was born Just-in time for the new year. I miss him so much. I’ve been invited to go out this evening, but I’ve decided to stay home.

I’m looking forward to a trip I planned to Mexico City for the month of February. I’ve always gone to beaches when I’ve visited Mexico, so this will be a nice change.

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

Best View of Neuschwanstein Castle

It was late May of this year when I took a short bus ride from the train station in Fussen at 8:05am to Neuschwanstein Castle. Actually the buses only go to the parking lot and then you can take a shuttle, horse drawn carriage, or walk up. I walked up and made my way to a hidden spot to take a few photos of Neuschwanstein. I discovered it through this blog. The Marienbr√ľcke bridge is temporarily shut down so it came in handy. I tried to take a selfie but the lighting wasn’t good. It’s a little scary because you’re on the side of a cliff. After visiting Versailles and all of those Chateaus in Tours, France… I had no desire to go inside. I had also read that so much of it is closed off to the public that it’s kind of a let down.

If you walk to it, it’s uphill.

On the walk you pass this gorgeous view! You can see Hohenschwangau Castle on the right.

I rewarded myself later with these delicious German pastries.

p.s.¬† If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022. ¬†Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Two nights in Fussen, Germany

After spending one night each in five German towns along the Romantic Road or Romantische Straße, I boarded a train that took almost two hours to reach Fussen. Upon arrival I walked 5 minutes to my lodging for two nights, which was situated in the center of town, stored my luggage and began exploring. I was anxious to see the Neuschwanstein Castle, but wanted a fresh start the next day for that.

I walked a couple of miles which included going to Lechfall (shown below). It was raining and chilly.

A few of these photos are from the following day when it wasn’t rainy.

My lodging was in this building.

It was cute inside and even had Netflix. I hadn’t watched television in seven weeks, so I took advantage of it.

I slept here.

This was the view from my little apartment.

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

One night in Augsburg, Germany

I took two trains the morning I left Nordlingen for Augsburg, Germany. My room was ready early so I checked in and went exploring. It rained off and on as I explored one of Germany’s oldest cities, dating back to 15 BC when it was founded by the Romans. It seemed very progressive.

My first stop was the Fuggerei, the world’s oldest social settlement. In 1521 Jacob F√ľgger the Rich founded this social settlement for Augsburgers in need. The yearly rent nowadays is still the equivalent of a Rhenish Guilder that is ‚ā¨ 0,88. The tenants must be Catholic, have lived in Augsburg at least for two years, and be poor without being in debt, and must pray three times a day for the founders family.

Watch out for the trams if you visit…there are lots of them.

My last stop in Germany was Fussen, where the Neuschwanstein Castle is located (coming up tomorrow). I had spent one night in five towns, known as the Romantic Road or Romantische Straße.

p.s.¬† If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022. ¬†Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

One night in Nordlingen, Germany

The morning I left Dinkelsbuhl for the bus stop it was raining. I boarded a full size bus and was the only person on it. 50 minutes later I arrived in Nordlingen for my one night’s stay. I walked five minutes to my hotel, stored my luggage and began exploring. I wandered around town for a while. A car with four nuns stopped next to me and asked something in German and I said “English” and they started giggling and drove off. Nordlingen is definitely not on most tourists radar…I saw regular people working in their yards and shopping. It had a slow paced feel.

I went up on the wall (built in the 14th century) that encircles the town and started thinking about perspective. Our perspectives of a place can be altered by many factors including weather, how you’re feeling, the people we meet, etc. Photography teaches you that moving just a few inches or looking in the other direction can change everything. Even perspectives about the places we choose to visit. I’ve had people say aren’t you scared to go there…usually based off of something they saw on the news, a movie they watched, or one person’s bad experience. They haven’t traveled much and don’t realize that there can be danger anywhere, especially in the United States.

More half-timbered architecture.

I stopped for a late lunch and it was delicious, especially the Sp√§tzle. I had one more town to spend one night in before reaching Fussen, where the Neuschwanstein Castle is located. It’s known as the Romantic Road or Romantische Stra√üe.

p.s.¬† If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022. ¬†Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

One night in Dinkelsbuhl, Germany

I had a hearty breakfast at my hotel in Rothenburg (where I spent one night) before walking 5 minutes to the bus stop where I took an 8:30 am bus to Dinkelsbuhl (since there’s no train station).

My friendly bus driver was from Chania, Greece. I arrived 20 minutes early and he was there with the bus, so we talked about travel. I switched buses once and the next driver was exceptionally mean. At one of the stops there was a passenger obviously distressed because she realized she had gotten on the wrong bus and was asking him in German where to go and he was shouting at her and wouldn’t help. Then when we arrived to what I was pretty certain was my stop I was trying to show him on my Google Maps but he started shouting at me and started to leave, then I said, no no no, I have to get my luggage. Luckily he opened the door for me.

Dinkelsbuhl was another cute town.

I walked to a park.

p.s.¬† If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022. ¬†Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

One night in Rothenburg ob der Tauber

After my one night in Wurzburg, I took a 70 minute train to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. It’s as quaint as everyone had said. I heard people speaking English since this is a well known tourist stop.

This area is known as Plönlein, featuring old, half-timbered houses, a small fountain, cobbled streets & shops.

I usually look for green spaces and water on Google Maps and walked downhill to the Doppelbr√ľcke and found a path to the water. For the climb back up it looked like I was going through someone’s property but there is a path and I passed one backpacker.

I made my way to the Panaramaweg path, where you’ll find a gorgeous view of vineyards and green!

The gelato was good, but I think Italian gelato is a bit better.

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

One night in Wurzburg, Germany

I was going to treat myself to a taxi from my Airbnb in Freiburg to the train station the morning I left for Wurzburg, but there wasn’t one available, so I walked the 10 minutes. I had a great conversation with a German guy with a bicycle on one of the trains. I offered to help him put his bike on the crowded rack and then we talked about all sorts of topics, including politics. The trains were packed with loud guys drinking beer (you’re allowed to take food and drinks on trains throughout much of Europe). Upon arrival in Wurzburg, I stopped for lunch since I had 40 minutes to kill before my check in time of 2:00pm. Once there I dropped my bags and went exploring. It was a cute town. I had four more towns to spend one night in each before reaching Fussen, where the Neuschwanstein Castle is located. It’s known as the Romantic Road or Romantische Stra√üe.

Hi

p.s.¬† If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022. ¬†Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Day trip by train from Freiburg, Germany thru the Black Forest

While researching where I could visit as a day trip by train during my five days in Freiburg, I came across an article about scenic trains in Germany, in particular one that went to Donaueschingen, Schluchsee, and Titisee, Germany (the Black Forest). I wasn’t in the mood for walking or biking (my tush hurt from my previous bike rides) and my favorite activity is to spend time in nature, so I took an early train and arrived in Donaueschingen at 9:09am (90 minute train ride). The scenery from the train was beautiful. I walked to the “Source of the Danube” and to a beautiful park called Schlosspark. Next, I took a 50 minute train ride to Titisee, situated on a beautiful lake and had lunch at a restaurant on the lake’s shore. The next train ride was only 20 minutes to Schluchsee which is also next to a beautiful lake, but I stayed only a short time and took the train back to Freiburg. It was a great way to spend the day!

Titisee Lake

Titisee Lake

Source of the Danube in Donaueschingen

Schlosspark

Donaueschingen

Donaueschingen

Schluchsee

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Five nights in Freiburg, Germany

I arrived in Freiburg, Germany after taking two trains (90 minutes total) from Colmar, France. I only had five minutes to change trains and had to take an escalator and an elevator to get to the correct platform and the doors literally shut less than 10 seconds after I pulled my luggage on board. I wasn’t able to store my luggage at the Airbnb I was staying at until check-in time (they were on vacation), so I paid 5 euros and stored it at the train station. I lived in Germany in the late 70’s for a few years while in the military and had visited Munich in 2014, so I was looking forward to being back.

I thought this was a cool building and unusual outdoor seating. It didn’t look comfortable though.

The McDonald’s sign looks out of place with the 13th Century architecture of Martin’s Gate.

While the Airbnb owners were on vacation they gave me permission to borrow their bicycle. I rode 13 km, exploring Seepark (photo below)

and Japanischer Garten

and a cycling path called F1.

Almost one-third of Freiburg has dedicated cycling lanes.

I stopped in the Cathedral in Freiburg

Researching online I found a Mineral Spa facility called Keidel Therme, located 40 minutes away via bicycle, so I left early one morning. The ride there had designated cycling lanes, but cyclists were whizzing by me on steroids and they weren’t saying “on your left” when passing.

What a wonderful place! I was going to take photos but an employee told me I wasn’t allowed to, but that I could take them from their website. It’s huge with indoor and outdoor facilities and lots of different pools, some that are hot and some lukewarm, cascading water that pounds on your shoulders, jets for your back, legs and feet. They have infrared lights that you can lay under. There’s also a sauna, but I didn’t pay for that. They offer massages and water therapies. Use of the pools is only 16.5 euros for all day.

I stayed in for an hour, swimming from area to area becoming a prune.

Then I purchased a pastry for breakfast and soaked up a little sun, before returning to the pools.

I decided to have lunch there and it was delicious! The experience reminded me of when a girlfriend and I went to a schwimmbad in Frankfurt. We were 19 years old and when we walked into the changing facility we were shocked because there were men and women walking around naked, sprawled out in the sauna. We kept our bathing suits on.

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

On the Street in Munich

While exploring the streets of Munich, we came upon a photo shoot, so I asked the photographer if I could take a photo of the models.¬† He said to ask them…so I did and they said yes!

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Here are some other “people, places or things” I encountered “On the Streets of Munich”

A cute little (old) scooter!

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Munich has Surfing, Beer & Pretzels

Who knew Munich has an outdoor place where talented surfers practice their sport!  My friend and I were walking to the English Garden and as we crested a hill, with the whooshing sound of waves crashing against the cement walls, we were surprised to see these skilled surfers, at times, darting perilously close to the walls.

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A crowd had congregated to watch the action…

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Magical Munich

Arriving in Munich with my friend Richard was exciting for me because it was the first time I’d returned to Germany since living there in the late 70’s while in the Military.¬† Our train ride was six hours from Budapest and I was looking forward to some solo exploration, after having been responsible for guiding 11 other travelers through four European countries for 11 days!¬† I had reserved an Airbnb in Munich, located within walking distance of Marienplatz and other areas of Munich on my list of things to see.

Richard’s friend that lives in Munich, met us for dinner that evening at an Indian Restaurant called Sangeet.¬† It was excellent!¬† I left them to catch up and returned to the Apartment.¬† The following two days we explored some of Munich.¬† This gaggle of geese in the English Garden reminded me of the Serengeti migration…

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Although the sky was overcast, it seemed nature’s colors were so vibrant!¬† These ducks were swiveling their heads this way and that…

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Approaching one of the squares, either Marienplatz or Oedeonplatz, the fountain’s spray was dramatic!

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