I’ve been traveling to Germany for the past decade, and this was I think my 10th trip? I tried to count them up, but I can’t remember how many times I hopped across the border while studying in Prague. It’s like asking me to count how many times I’ve been to Portland. We’ve been to Munich a half a dozen times – after all, H grew up there. But for this trip, we knew we wanted a few day away from everything to just explore a new place. We looked at a bunch of different places, but when I saw this apartment on Airbnb, I knew we were coming to Schwangau.
Schwangau is where Neuschwanstein is – spoiler alert: we didn’t go to Neuschwanstein – and Hohenschwagau. It’s very typically Bavarian. In fact, on our second day there, the dairy across the street let their cows out into the field in the first photo. It was loud, and kinda smelly, but so very Bavarian. We laughed, and headed out to visit a few castles.
If you’ve ever been to Leavenworth, and loved it, you’re going to love the real Bavaria. Leavenworth, while good, isn’t anything like the real deal. The first morning, I woke up and snuck out on the balcony. The mist was out (that’s the first photo) and it was perfection. We wandered around and ate cake at a beautiful old cafe. I visited a cemetery (you can learn a lot about a village by how they treat their dead). We hiked a mountain with a baby and visited a castle. We almost got caught in the rain (which is why we didn’t make it to Neuschwanstein) and read books in the hammock on the balcony. It was good.
I didn’t take very many photos on our recent trip to Munich. We barely went into the city, in fact, we only went in once — to stroll around Schloss Nymphenburg on a sunny Sunday afternoon. As we wandered along the paths, the beautiful spring sunshine beating down on our shoulders, and the baby sleeping in her stroller, I had a moment where I realized — this could have been our normal.
I’d like to think that there are alternate universes out there, where things have gone ever so slightly different, and instead of living here in Spokane, we packed everything up and moved to Germany. In all realities, we probably wouldn’t be living in Munich, but it was a fun thing to think about as we sat down at the cafe and had our cake, and then posed in front of the lilacs on our way back to the car.
This last photo is something different. It’s the view from the sofa at my grandparents-in-law’s home in Munich. From there, you can see through the doors into their Winter Garten (the German version of a sunroom, it’s all glass and you put your plants in there in the winter). I’ve sat on this sofa during every trip to Germany, in this corner, and stared through these doors. I’ve seen rain and sun and snow fall out those windows. And this photo, more than almost any other, causes me such homesickness for a home I’ve never lived in. Funny how that works, isn’t it?
Ah, Delos. The home of the Gods, the center of the cyclades, a UNESCO world heritage site.
Uninhabited, well preserved, an entire island masquerading as an archaeological site. Well, honestly, no masquerade here. Delos fulfilled all the archaeological wishes that I felt weren’t met in Athens (too neat, too tidy, too touristy). We wandered the paths on the map, and we meandered through the museum, and then we hiked up the mountain (not a mountain by any means) and yes, I traipsed up a small hill/mountain in sandals and a dress.
Delos is fascinating. It’s like walking through a ghost town, the place was abandoned in stages, and there are areas where the architecture is very old, and other areas where it’s just old. Homes where the walls are built with stacked rocks, and – from what I can tell – no visible mortar or adhesive atop of dirt floors. These homes are over 1,000 years old, some possibly more than 2,000 years old. They are single rooms with a fire pit in the center for cooking. Other areas have intricate tile floors, beautiful designs, and tell you about Delos’ rich past. What fascinated me most is that Delos is unapologetic. Delos just…is. It hasn’t been cleaned up, it hasn’t been commercialized, there is no tidy, Disney tour here. Transportation (and tour options) is provided by Delos Tours from Mykonos, but otherwise, you’re given a map and asked to stay on the paths. There are shards of broken pottery everywhere, the evidence of lives once lived in abundance here. A small cafe – we didn’t stop in – the museum, and the remnants of what was once the center of Greek culture and commerce. And yet…everything is gone.
My advice: go early, wear sunscreen, bring lots of water and some snacks, and be prepared to walk a decent amount in no shade (I think it’s about 2-2.5 miles for the longest route, which we took) over a couple hours.
All photos taken on my Nikon FG-20 film camera with Kodak Portra 160 film by me (I am a rockstar at film camera selfies). Many of the photos from Delos can be purchased as prints, like my other travel images.
My dreams of visiting Greece were two-fold. I wanted to go to Athens, a city with so much history, and I wanted to visit a Greek island or two. Which is how we ended up squeezing way too much stuff into a week in Greece.
We were pretty sure we wanted to hit up the Aegean Sea, and ended up settling on the Cyclades. When it came down to it, we decided on Mykonos. H wanted to be able to go to the beach, and I was hoping to get some SUP in (alas, the winds were pretty high and we figured kite surfing was probably not the best choice for a pregnant lady). Crete and the Ionian Islands were also on our short list.
While Athens smacks you upside the face from the moment you arrive with the depth of its history, it wasn’t until our plane was about to land in Mykonos that I felt like I was about to experience a more real part of Greece. Which is a bit silly, since I don’t think I met someone who actually was from Mykonos in the entire time I was there. The entire island survives off tourism, and I guess the island more or less shuts down from November-April. Insane, right? In the end, Mykonos was a great choice for us, especially since May isn’t the party season yet. We weren’t into the nightlife, and when the cruise ships came into port, we were hanging out on beaches on the other side of the island, cruising around on an ATV (you can rent them everywhere, we just asked our hotel to call someone), or taking a day trip to Delos. We spent just a few days in Mykonos, but it was a wonderful thing. Each morning, we bundled up to combat the stiff sea breeze, and had breakfast with a great view of the ocean, and then we’d traipse down to town before the cruise ships started to dock. Then we’d head off on an adventure somewhere. We got lost in the maze of streets and alleys that make up Mykonos Town, chatted with a Greek-American expat who showed me the most beautiful and expensive sapphire ring I’ve ever seen, and ate so very well.
I’ve always been happiest when we’re on an island, and I dream of someday retiring to an island in the Mediterranean or Caribbean.
All photos shot on my Nikon FG-20 with Portra 160, 400, and 800. Prints from this post, and other images from Greece, are available for purchase.
I’ve been dreaming of a trip to Greece as long as I can remember. It flew to the top of my bucket list when I took a class on the ancient cities of Greece and Italy in college. It’s silly to say this, but being the planners that we are, H and I sat down a few ago now and made some long term goals. Most of them were practical – paying down a good chunk of our student loans, buying a house, and having a baby were all on the list. So was visiting Greece. It was everything I imagined – and so much more.
We only had about two and a half days in Athens, and we wanted to do more, but with me being so tired (and the transit strike), we didn’t get as much done as we wanted. We staying in an AirBnB near the Acropolis, and it was great fun to wake up with jetlag at 3am and look out the kitchen window and see the Acropolis all lit up. It was a short 5 minute walk to get to the grounds of the Acropolis, and due to the strike, we ended up taking a cab into the city and back out the airport, and walking the rest of the time. While we were tired, we were really glad we’d decided on a place right in the center, thanks to all the traffic insanity. One day, we logged over 8 miles of exploring!
Athens is dotted with orange trees, the way that Spokane is full of maple trees, and there are stray cats on pretty much every corner. I don’t know how feral they are, because many of them let me come right up to them and cuddled with me. The cutie below was a little more aloof, but he was also sleeping in a small patch of shade right under the Acropolis, so I assume he was really a Greek God keeping an eye on his domain. ;)
There isn’t much shade at the Acropolis, so we took the advice of my college professor, and got there as soon as it opened, and then followed that up with a light lunch in the area and an afternoon at the Acropolis Museum. As some of you know, our travel “thing” is visiting Olympic cities, so we’ve been to Beijing, Vancouver, Munich, Berlin, Paris (separately), and Athens. Since May, we’ve also made it to Los Angeles! :) There’s a great museum at the Panathenic Stadium which had torches from all of the Olympics and a bunch of their promotional posters too. The stadium in Athens is something crazy to see, since it’s made entirely of marble. In fact, since marble is a local stone, even a lot of the sidewalks are made out of lower quality marble, which cracked me up. The people of Greece use marble for sidewalks that many Americans would love to use on their kitchen counters or bathroom cabinets! We hiked all the way up the stairs to sit in the top row, and some of the steps were HUGE. I almost had to crawl up one section, because it was so tall. The museum at the stadium is down in the catacombs, which were considered sacred for many centuries before the stadium was built. There’s a free audio tour, and it’s really great!
We did a little bit of shopping in Athens, and we’re both now the proud owners of some classic Greek sandals, which we purchased at this shop. Totally worth it for the experience alone, and I had a hard time only buying one pair! I’ve been wearing mine all summer long, and I know I’m going to cry the day they bite the dust…which hopefully won’t be for years to come.