Saturday, March 11, 2017

Prague, Czech Republic

There are always these places that seem so close that I could visit them every other weekend, but in reality I somehow end up going everywhere else but there. When I lived in Estonia, it was Vilnius (I still need to go there!). In Konstanz, it's Strasbourg, Milan and Prague. Countless times I started planning a trip to the Czech capital, but it never worked out. Until now! Celebrating Matt's brother's first time in Europe, we decided to try to show him as much as possible and what better way to do it than a roadtrip - Konstanz, München, Prague and Berlin! It was such a fun time, the best possible way to move (oh yea, I live in Berlin now!) and all in all a good route to see very different cities.

Since I've been waiting for this trip forever, I had the time to develop tons of expectations on Prague. Sadly, the last weeks in Konstanz were so busy, that I hardly had the time to do the research, which I usually do very (very!) throughly. But since it was the first time in Prague for all of us, it was perfectly fine to check out all the famous sights from Charles Bridge to Prague Castle to John Lennon wall and so on. What shocked me was how touristy the historic centre was - tacky souvenir shops, overpriced restaurants and umbrella-waving tour guides everywhere. And that was in February... Thus, even though Prague is stereotypically the cheaper destination in Central Europe, this takes quite a bit of work to actually find. Now add a completely different language and constant calculations with the local currency to the pot and you get the idea of how confused we were. But we made it work and I definately plan on going back to the beautiful city some time when I can enjoy the delicious beer outside in the middle of these beautiful views (and selfie sticks). 

Tips from our experience with Prague:
1. If you go by car, exchange money ahead of time so that you can buy the highway sticker on the border without having to choose between the horrible price in Euros or the worst exchange rate offered in the country. 
2. Speaking of currency exchange, the best rate we got was from the Sparkasse (only relevant for people coming from Germany, I suppose) ATMs using the rate offered by our home bank. Kind of risky since you won't know the rate when you pull out cash, but worked out for us.
3. DO YOUR RESEARCH. It's easy to get lost and hangry in the middle of everyone trying to sell you something when you don't know what you're doing. Next time I'll try to make a list of places to eat, so that we can just head straight to a known place instead of looking for a restaurant with empty stomachs. 
4. Public transport is awesome. It takes you anywhere, saves your energy for the evening beers instead of walking all day and has reasonable pricing (we used day passes). As a bonus, you can ride these crazy long escalators to the subway. 
5. Enjoy the free views. We paid to get into the "Eiffel tower" viewing platform, but I found the views from the Castle equally as nice. In the evening, get some drinks and head up to the Metronome for the view and some more authentic environment with tons of young people. 
6. Eat those sweet roll things. I read that they aren't even Czech. I don't care what they are, they were awesome. 

Oops, I didn't plan on writing so much in this post. Here's some photo material. Since I honestly plan on going back sooner rather than later, all recommendations for Prague are welcome! Maybe I'll even manage to read some Kafka before the next trip. 






Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Walking on the Bodensee

Konstanz, that usually gets fog and rain instead of real winter weather, has been extremely cold with temperatures reaching -10 degrees Celsius at night this January. Even though it has made life for nutters like me who just won't give up commuting by bike that easily kind of a pain, last Saturday made it all worth it. For a week or so, the lake between Hegne (a 5-minute train ride from town) and the island of Reichenau has been frozen enough to allow people on it. I honestly never have and never expected to see anything like this around here, ever... On top of that, Saturday was also the first warmer day after the weeks of cold, meaning: we got to enjoy a 5km walk on ice in the sun. 

P.S. I don't know if anyone besides me notices it, but thanks to Matt's computer magic here, I am now fully independent in my photo hosting and can thus post them here larger and in full quality. :D

P.P.S. Yes, that is a pan throwing competition on the last picture. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

A walk through Konstanz

Before the Christmas markets kick off everywhere this week, I'd better share the last fall pictures that have been waiting around for a few weeks already. Even though this fall has been way colder than in the past couple years, the colors have totally made up for it. For a few weeks, I kept dragging Matt on walks through town and the surroundings of our house, even though we could barely hold a conversation, as I just kept repeating "wow so pretty" the whole time. Konstanz is amazing like that. Just a 5 minute walk from the extremely busy "front yard" of ours that is Zähringerplatz, I could actually sneak an almost-ready grape in my mouth straight from a vineyard on a hill.

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Friday, October 28, 2016

Fall thoughts on lessons from Summer

Last night, after some serious struggles and thanks to my Mom who, for some reason, doesn't hang up on Skype calls that start off with "I kinda need your credit card info, please", I finally got my Photoshop/Lightroom subscription sorted out again after months. That led me to long forgotten photos from a little hiking trip we went on with some friends to check out the Lichtenstein castle that I kept seeing on Instagram all the time. Somehow, I hadn't still found a way to go there, most likely because it's kind of in the middle of nowhere (even though, for an Estonian, this does not exist in Germany) and takes forever to reach by train.

The hiking trail to and around the castle was pretty nice, but I have to admit, the castle itself was kind of a disappointment after seeing all those filtered fairy tale photos of it. It's way smaller than I had thought and not as jaw-dropping as, for example, Neuschwanstein or Hohenzollern, in real life. But for a person like me, who likes checking out anything I haven't seen before and walking in nature, it was still a fun day and place to visit. Even though I'm not really the homesick type, forests and nature is something I've realized I really miss about Estonia. Empty beaches and hiking trails in Southern Germany are as hard to find as mountains are in Estonia... so, I suppose, it's a fair deal, everything has a way of evening out.

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Fall arrived out of nowhere and I've found myself working hard and getting used to the new rhytm of life again. This past summer taught me a lot about the value of trusting my own gut feeling, taking risks and getting up again after every fall. I also got reminded of the obvious, like the fact that the least you should do is try. And then try something else. I started doing new things and met a bunch of interesting people on the way and never have I realized so clearly, how much there is to learn from every single human being. I'm not an open person enough, to share every detail of this journey, but these are some memories, values and lessons I want to keep with me for a long time.

And, since my dad would have turned 56 today, I will remember him by summing up this whole experience with something he always said: there's a very simple solution to every complicated problem somewhere.

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Thursday, August 4, 2016

All around Konstanz by bike

Long time no see around here. Having finally recieved my BA diploma, Matt and I spent the Midsummer's eve week on Saaremaa and then packed my 7 things to leave for Konstanz for good... or at least for now. We'll see what kind of adventures and surprises are in store for me.

But for now, what (I think) I do best regarding this blog: photos! The Emme was visiting us for a week and since this wasn't her first time here anymore, it was a lot more about chilling and enjoying the weather, which finally decided to play along, or in other words, turn my Mom red all over, haha. Ice cream for lunch and dinner, endless bike trips, sunshine, Konstanzer Weinfest and visiting the local book stores every single day. To those who don't know my Mom well enough: I was not kidding with the last one!

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