I’ve been experiencing writer’s block lately, so I thought I’d tell you about my day through a slightly different medium. Enjoy!
I’ve spent the past few days staying with friends in the city of Innsbruck, Austria. It’s a stunning city, located in a wide valley in the middle of the Tirol Provence. Unfortunately… my first couple of days were rainy. Most of yesterday was spent enjoying the city center–sitting in cafes and wandering into beautiful Baroque churches. I knew there were mountains (after all, I’ve been here before!), but couldn’t actually see anything. That is… until today.
This morning, I had the opportunity to go hiking with my friend Anna and her mother. Thankfully, I’ve been traveling in a pair of heavy-duty boots and was well prepared for the climb. Continue reading
Staying with strangers is odd. You spend a couple of weeks emailing back and forth with a person you’ve never met, making arrangements. But, the whole time, you’re never really sure if it will work out… will it be a total disaster? Will we get along? Will I be in the way?
I’ve spent the past few days in Konstanz, Germany staying with a friend of a friend. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but it’s been a really positive experience. My hosts have been incredibly kind and accommodating, giving me a room of my own to sleep in, a bike to use, and a spare key so I can come and go as I please. They even invited me out with their friends for an all-you-can-eat and drink meal of what they called “German pizza”. (I don’t know what the real name is, but it looks like pizza, only with no sauce and different toppings.)
After a few weeks of exploring big cities and cultural centers, it feels good to be off the beaten path. Konstanz is a tourist town, but most of the tourists are either German or Swiss. It’s located on the shores of Lake Constance (the largest lake in Germany) at the intersection of three countries: Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. On a clear day, you can see the Alps from across the lake.
On my first full day, I biked out into the countryside. I spent the morning among rolling hills, vineyards, and blooming fruit trees. In many ways, it reminded me of being home. I visited a nearby island filled with small, independent farms and old churches. My afternoon was spent wandering around Konstanz, exploring the old town and harbor. Compared to some of the grand old cities I’ve explored, it wasn’t anything to write home about, but still nice.
On day two, I took a day trip. I pulled myself out of bed bright and early, found my way to the bus stop, and an hour later, I was in Zurich, Switzerland. Most of my day was spent wandering around, exploring whichever narrow, cobbled streets caught my fancy. Sadly, I didn’t do any traditional Swiss things. No new watches or fancy chocolates for me… Switzerland is expensive and I’m on a tight budget. I did spent a couple of hours in the city’s art museum, delighting in their national collection. I lingered on the shores of Lake Zurich for a long, long time, soaking in the Alps and enjoying the fresh air.
On day three, I did absolutely nothing. I mean that literally. I stayed in bed almost the entire day, reading and binge watching Call the Midwife on Netflix. Travel is exhausting! It sounds weird, but it’s sometimes good to take a vacation from vacation. I did venture out to the supermarket in the morning, along with a short walk around the neighborhood in the afternoon. Besides that… the day was all rest and relaxation.
It was a bit awkward because my main contact was away from home during half my visit. She returned to her hometown to help a friend shop for wedding dresses, leaving me alone with her male roommates. I felt a bit out of place, but they were nice, and I mostly kept to myself.
Now, I’m on to the next chapter of my adventure. After a great week in Germany, it’s time to turn to it’s neighbor: Austria.
The second chapter of my European adventure is well under way!
I arrived in Amsterdam on Monday night, which was an adventure in and of itself. My flight from Scotland was delayed, which was okay, it just meant I got to my hostel later than expected. Getting from the airport to they city’s center was an easy train ride, followed by a half-hour walk through the dark streets. I got to my hostel at 11 PM and promptly went to sleep.
Two full days proved to be all I needed to check all the boxes in my “To See” list.
Yesterday was spent in art museums. My first stop was the Rijksmuseum, which is the Dutch national museum. I spent a few hours wandering the galleries, soaking in the country’s history through paintings. There were a few of Rembrandt’s most famous paintings in the collection, which were amazing to see in person.
I lingered for a LONG time in the Van Gogh Museum, which might just be one of my new favorites. I feel like I appreciated the collection more than anything I’ve seen in quite a while. Going from room to room reading about Van Gogh’s life and viewing his art, I actually felt like I was getting to know him. It was more than just empty information. I feel like I encountered a flesh and blood man. The collection was impressive–there were at least a hundred of his works on display. (To think that, in the States, just having one is a big deal!)
This morning, I got up early… but not early enough to beat the crowds at the Anne Frank House. I arrived right at opening, but the line was already stretching down the street and around the corner. Half-expecting this would be the case, I brought my Kindle and read a book during the two-hour wait. The museum was definitely worth it. To walk through the Secret Annex (entering through the original concealed door), to see Anne’s handwriting in person, to watch videos of her father reflecting on the experience… it was incredible. I was deeply moved. At the end, they had a book with all the names of the Dutch Jews who lost their lives at the hands of the Nazis… the book was the size of a Bible. Over 10,000 names. That really hit me–I can’t even wrap my mind around those kind of numbers.
My second stop today was the Rembrandt House. Although not as moving as my first stop, I thoroughly enjoyed touring the rooms and studio of one of my favorite painters. Like Van Gogh, I learned a LOT about the artist that I didn’t know before. At the end, there was an hour-long video (produced by the BBC) about his later career. I watched the whole thing… partially because my legs were tired from walking all day, but mostly because it was fascinating. They examined several of his paintings in-depth, which gave profound insight into the painter’s methods.
Aside from grand museums, it’s been enjoyable just walking around Amsterdam. It’s a great city, filled with beautiful buildings and picturesque canals. The city definitely has its dark corners and dodgy bits, but I was able to avoid them.
Also, bikes! There are bikes everywhere! I have to continually remind myself to watch out for them, lest I get run over.
One of my favorite bits has been meeting locals. I had a long discussion with a man in a cafe this afternoon–he told me all about Dutch art, history, and even pointed me to some lesser-known museums (which I will have to visit if I’m ever back).
So… that’s Amsterdam!
Scotland, you have stolen my heart once again. My past three days have been spent exploring the Highlands and Island of Skye.
Being a single explorer with a desire to explore the vast wilderness of Scotland, I decided that the best way to taste my fill of nature was by taking a bus tour. The thing about but tours is that they’re expensive, but they provide all kinds of facts I never would have known on my own. Instead of fretting over catching busses and figuring out train times, I sat back, relaxed, and absorbed thrilling tales of faeries and Jacobite rebellions.
Two of the days were spent traveling across the Highlands, with one full day on Skye. We spent the night in the adorable coastal town of Portree. Although known for its rain, the first two days of the trip were sunny and gorgeous. The visibility on the island was incredible! At points, we could see all the way to the outer Hebrides–a rare feat.
I saw a lot during my trip… attempting to go into everything would suck up time that I don’t have. So, here are some photos from the Isle of Skye. I’ll post more from the Highlands later.
In the meantime, I’m in Edinburgh for a few days and look forward to exploring the capital of Scotland.
Another month has come and gone and it’s time to look back. Welcome to another…
Part I. Blogging
It’s been a FANTASTIC month on Keep Your Feet! At the beginning of September, I made the following goals:
- Stick to my revamped posting schedule
- Participate in Blogging University’s Writing 101 challenge
- Follow at least five new blogs
- Comment on at least three new blogs
For the most part, I more than met these goals. Participating in Writing 101 made it easy. I couldn’t help scrolling through my classmates’ posts, seeing all the interesting ways they interpreted the daily assignments. Following and commenting came naturally and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know more of my fellow bloggers.
I’m incredibly proud of the work I’ve been doing in Writing 101. Some of the posts over the past month have meant more to me than anything I’ve written in a long time. Here’s a list of my favorites, in case you missed them. I’d really appreciate if you checked them out and would love to hear your responses!
- I Don’t Know How to Stop (Writing 101, Day 1)
- Love is All You Need… Or is It? (Writing 101, Day 3)
- Imagination and Empathy: Tapping Humanity’s Greatest Strengths (Writing 101, Day 7)
- To a Rainy Day (Writing 101, Day 9)
I freely admit that I’ve fudged my posting schedule… AGAIN. But coming up with features on top of daily assignments is a tall order. I don’t feel bad for not meeting it. Last weekend, though, I pulled together several new On the Shelf reviews of books I’ve been reading lately. Those will be posted over the next few weeks.
As for my attempts to blog about life on an apple orchard… I’m pretty sure that feature is never going to happen. I work 50+ hours a week at the orchard and, when I’m off duty, don’t want to write about it.
Part II. Books
September was an unusually slow reading month. I attribute this to the fact that I spent most of my time in non-fiction, which is a bit uncharacteristic. This was supplemented by listening to the Harry Potter books on audiobook for the second time in three months. No regrets there!
The main books I have read include:
- Live, Love, Lead by Brian Houston
- Love Does by Bob Geoff
- Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
- Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
I plan doing informal reviews on Gay, Sanderson, and Geoff’s books in the upcoming weeks. Keep an eye out for those!
Part III. Life
This month was BUSY, to say the least! My family’s apple orchard opened on September 3 and, ever since, we’ve all become workaholics. I’m at the orchard six days a week. Some days, I only have to be over there for a few hours. Others, especially when we’re gearing up for a busy weekend, I pull multiple 10-hour-days in a row. On Saturday night, after working in the store handling an endless stream of customers and transactions, my parents and I go to a local bar for burgers, beer (or, in my case, hard cider), and a rest from toil.
Nevertheless, I have been doing fun things! With friends in my area, I’ve had a steady stream of movie marathons, bonfires, and girls nights. I’ve been to my local Applebee’s more times in the past month than I have in my entire life. A few weeks ago, I met up with one of my study abroad friends who recently moved to Minneapolis. We went to see Ivan & Alyosha and Noah Gundersen. My older brother and I also went to a Twins baseball game, which was a blast. I also went to the Renaissance Festival with an old roommate. I haven’t been since high school and loved it! It was so fun exploring the different vendors and watching the jousting.
On the job front, I have a possible job opportunity when orchard season ends! Nothing is official, but once my resume is approved, I’ll have a part-time job from mid-October through early January. I’ll tell you all about what the job is once it’s official. It’s perfect because it’s a job I’m very much interested in, but am hesitant to make a full 2-year commitment. I love my home community, but don’t really want to put down roots and stay here. If things work out, I’ll gain professional experience, have a source of income for the next few months, and still have wiggle-room to figure out where the next big adventure lies.
October Blogging Goals:
- Comment on 3 blogs per week
- Post at least 3 times per week
- Clean up and revamp menus and pages
- Continue using Writing 101 assignments as inspiration for non-feature posts
Photos From This Month:
This past weekend to celebrate my mother’s birthday (which just-so-happens to be on the 4th of July), my family took a boat cruise on the St. Croix River. Although we live five minutes from the launching point in Taylors Falls and know the owners of the company, I hadn’t been on one of the ferry boats since I was a little girl.
Due to wildfires in the Western U.S. and Canada, the air has been incredibly hazy over the past week. For days the sky was stained white from the smoke that’s drifted across the continent. At one point, we could even smell the smoke.It’s amazing how events have a way of effecting everyone–even people hundreds of miles away.
The haze made for some beautiful photos. I’m no photographer, but I like to dabble with my iPhone every now and then. Here’s a shot of the Taylors Falls Princess, one of the oldest ferry boats in the country. Or, as my best friend and I used to say when we spotted it on the river from our school bus, it’s the “Fairy with No Wand”.
It’s only when you work full-time that you realize how absolutely splendid weekends are. Despite it being rainy most of the past couple days, I’ve had some special moments. Pajamas till noon, long bike rides, time with family. Here’s a big conglomeration of it all.
Yesterday, I opened my copy of Persuasion by Jane Austen to find a wonderful surprise. I bought it months ago at a thrift store and within the pages was a stack of photos that I can only assume belong to the book’s previous owner. Most of the photos are of a bunch of young kids hanging out in summer. Printing notes on the back tell me that they are from 2008. It’s really special, finding photos that meant something to someone.
Who are these kids?
Which one owned the book?
Where are they now?
Do they still remember the good times they had together?
It’s a special thing, getting a glimpse into someone else’s memories.
On another note, I hope to be discussing Persuasion in a few weeks during my weekly On the Shelf post. I’ve got something else planned for this week, but Austen is coming!
I donated to my first Kickstarter campaign! I’ve been trying to get better at financial giving and, instead of supporting a charity or ministry, I put my money to support one of my favorite bands. Jenny & Tyler are a folksy husband/wife duo who sing lots of love sings and have a passion for social justice. I saw them live in concert in October and loved every minute of it. You can check out their music on YouTube and, if you like what you hear, donate to their Kickstarter campaign! They’ll be using the money to fund a couple new albums and a tour!
I’m hoping to paint these tonight! If I don’t get to them, I’ll for-sure paint them sometime this week. I’m REALLY excited to see how the mermaid turns out.
I made the poor decision to go into Goodwill and Half Price Books this afternoon, which means unnecessarily buying books I won’t get to reading for three years. Still, I managed to snag an autographed copy of Sarah Dessen’s new book Saint Anything!!! It’s been a LONG while since I’ve read any of Dessen’s work, but I was a big fan in high school. This book was ridiculously overpriced, even for a discount store, but I can now display it next to my other autographed books. (I’d like to note that this collection includes a first-edition, signed copy of The Fault in Our Stars.)
I got to see Pitch Perfect 2 on Friday. It was pretty crude at points and didn’t have the most original plot, but I can’t remember the last time I laughed that hard.
That’s it for my wrap-up. Did you do anything fun this weekend?