Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Willkommen in Deutschland! Part 1

Hi Girls-

I hope you are having a fabulous week! I'm crazy busy with work but by no means am I complaining.  I feel so fortunate to be with a wonderful company and working with such great people who I feel value my opinion and work ethic.

I was so excited to start this post!  I've been thinking about writing it ever since I got back--heck, I was thinking about it while I was there and trying to think of different, quirky sayings to accompany some of the pictures I was going to share.  I hope y'all like photos because I know I've been posting a lot of them lately but this is my blog :) and it's important for me to share them so not only can you have a better visual of everything going on but also so that I can look back on this years from now and read and enjoy reminiscing what I posted.  I'm going to blog about this trip on multiple posts because I have so much to talk about when it comes to the most amazing 7 days in Europe and I didn't want to give you carpal tunnel by being in a constant scroll down mode--you're welcome!

So, let's get to it.  When I started my new job on June 1st, my boss asked me if I had a passport.  This simple question brought so much excitement into my boring little world that I didn't even care where we were going--just that I was going to use it and get a cool stamp on it.  My company's global headquarters is in Solingen, Germany and this year is their 50th anniversary.  To celebrate, they brought in the U.S. sales team (all 5 of us--lol) to be a part of their anniversary party and meet some of the first customers to the company.  To say I was excited would be a complete understatement--I was over the moon ecstatic.  This would be my first trip to Europe and best of all, it was all paid for!  And it also was fulfilling one of my things on my list (read about the list here if you are unfamiliar with it).  My boss' boss lived in Amsterdam, just a quick train ride from where I was at in Germany.  After talking to him and how much he loved living there, I decided I was going to take a little mini vacation after my work trip (that really felt like a vacation itself) and spend a long weekend doing touristy things in Amsterdam.  It was unbelievable! 

It was amazing being surrounded by so much history and culture.  The food was incredible. The city and the country was so beautiful. The people were so nice and nearly everyone I talked to spoke English.  Everything and more importantly, everybody, seemed so laid back.  Life wasn't rushed, neither were any of the meals which all lasted nearly two hours--even lunch, lol!  It was all an event--something to really take in and cherish.  I feel so fortunate I was able to go and be a part of it with my company but also to fulfill a dream of mine to travel to Europe.  I took 432 pictures---don't worry, I won't be sharing all 432 of them but I will be posting quite a few. 

Wo soll ich da anfangen? (or Where do I begin?) My trip began on July 20th.  I spent 5 wonderful days in Germany and 2 days in the Netherlands.  My excitement was through the roof and although I travel quite a bit by myself here in the states, it would be my first time traveling abroad.  I was a little nervous but to be honest, I was more worried about being on a plane for 8 hours and how I would handle that.  I was fortunate enough to have an exit row seat AND there was no one in the middle seat giving me plenty of room to stretch out for the whole flight. 

This was my seat for the flight---yep, that's the door! 

I ordered a special meal for the flight there--so glad I did!  It was actually pretty good.

Sunrise somewhere over the Atlantic ocean!  I was amazed!

So, this is where all the fun started?  I now had to navigate my way via the train which shouldn't have been a difficult venture, right?  I only had 3 stops that I had to manage.

This happened during my first stop and it was awesome!  Gay Pride week was occurring in the Netherlands while I was there.  I was sitting waiting on my train and I heard these loud steel drums coming from the train pulling in and off steps this herd.  There was dancing, singing, a news crew filming and a whole bunch of pink!

And then this is when it got interesting--I somehow got on the wrong train and had to get off at a station that I'm still not sure where it was and book another leg to get me to my destination in Dusseldorf.  I surprised myself by not getting upset because I had no clue where I was and was in a foreign country lost but I chalked it all up as part of the experience.  I mean, really, how far could I actually go?  Well,  I ended up getting off on the wrong stop again and decided my best bet would be to  just took a cab the rest of the way to the hotel that I was staying at. 

OK, how in love was I with this hotel key?!?  I don't even remember the last hotel I stayed at where there was an actual key to use instead of a swipe card.

This was the hotel that we stayed at.  It was in the beautiful city of Solingen, German which is one of the few cities that didn't get toppled during the war.  I absolutely adore cobblestone streets.  The picture on the left is the main part of the hotel but I stayed in the cottage on the right. 
And this is my bed.  Very Ikea-esque!  But not totally uncomfortable.

OK, so old town hotels don't have all the modern conveniences, ie air conditioning.  And although the windows were beautiful, it was a bit stuffy and somewhat uncomfortable to sleep at night.  I know, first world problems right!
My bathroom--the shower was about the size of the shower in my camper.  Uber small and not conducive to the shaving of the legs.

This was the view out of two of my windows.  Simply stunning!
Part of our welcome gifts from our German counterparts.  It is a really funny book!
And who needs chocolate left on your pillow when the Haribo gummy factory is literally right around the corner (and yes, I went there before I headed to Holland--more to come on that later).

And this was the temp during my first full day there. 

OK girls, well that's part 1 of my European vacation.  I can't wait to share more with y'all!