The life of an expat can be glamorous. Traveling, seeing new places, having new experiences. But then reality sets in. We can't travel all the time unfortunately. Things like work and cleaning and cooking and laundry can get in the way.
And that's what happened this weekend. We've been busy pretty much every weekend since the beginning of December. There was Munich and then Cologne, and then we were in Ireland. And the weekends after we got back from Ireland were spent in the Black Forest and then the Czech Republic. Well, all the traveling, and laundry, finally caught up with us. We were in dire need of a weekend to sleep in, relax, and binge watch Netflix.
On Saturday, Aaron had found a new recipe that we decided to try: braised beef shanks. The best part is that I was able to get almost everything at the market. Farm fresh produce is the best to work with. There are vendors there selling everything from produce to spices to meat and fish and flowers. Speaking of flowers, spring must be right around the corner because there were tulips everywhere! And tulips are a sure sign of spring.
Sunday afternoon, we were able to get a dive in. I am ashamed to say that it was our first dive since we got back from the Philippines, our longest surface interval yet. It felt great to be back in the water, even if my dry suit did leak a little.
That night, we got together with some friends. One of the hardest parts of living over here is missing our friends and family back in Michigan. It was so easy to call someone up to go diving, or get together for a couple beers at the local brewery. I think we took the closeness of friends and family for granted when we were there. Now, six months in, the honeymoon phase is starting to wear off. Germany is feeling less like a foreign country, and more like home. But the language barrier is ever present and more isolating than I imagined. I am so incredibly grateful for the friends we have made over here, but that doesn't stop us from missing the life we had in Michigan. Perhaps ... hopefully ... one day we will be back there.
In the meantime, I have been busy planning our travels for the next few months. February is Karnival, or Fasching, here in Germany and we are planning on heading north, near Bonn, to participate in some of the festivities. In March, we are looking at booking a dog sledding tour in northern Sweden. In April, my grandparents are coming to visit. In May, we booked a day trip to Grunersee in Austria (one of the things on our bucket list) and then we are headed to France to meet up with some friends. At the end of the month, my sister is thinking of visiting! I can't tell you how excited I am to see her! In June, we are looking at going to Iceland for diving (although the airfare to get there has gone through the roof!). I also really want to explore more of Eastern Europe - Poland, Estonia, Hungary, maybe Latvia. But those aren't planned yet. If you have any suggestions of places to go, we would love to hear them!