A few years ago, on a very lucky Friday the 13th, we eloped to Maine, specifically to Northeast Harbor, a tiny village at the mouth of Somes Sound, where the ladies in the Town Clerk’s office were giddy and gracious in hosting an impromptu wedding for us on just a few days’ notice. They served as officiant, witnesses, photographer, and florist, presenting me with a bouquet of fresh-cut daffodils from outside the building. We spent the rest of the weekend exploring the island by bike and foot. When we arrived back home, we sent the Town Hall crew a thank you note with Portsmouth chocolates and our favorite picture from that day. And so began our May tradition of adventuring on Mount Desert Island.
This weekend, we arrived on Friday for four days of hiking, running, writing, sleeping, and eating. Acadia National Park is the frequent site of the first three activities, while the Acacia House Inn is our preferred site for the last two. We’ve written extensively about our national park adventures at Acadia, but we’ve been remiss in writing about our favorite B&B, the place we stayed that first spring and almost every year since. Let’s correct that right now! (more…)
I’ve spent four months of my life in Germany. I visited my family here for one month when I was ten years old, another month when I was sixteen and about two months spread across three visits over the past three years. The large time span between visits has allowed me to experience the strange intersection of memory and reality. Nowhere was this more evident than when I visited Rothenburg ob der Tauber last week with T, S & J. (more…)
We’ve been in Germany for more three weeks, and our spoken language skills have progressed to the point where we can order dinner and drinks in a restaurant (confirming that things are meat-free as needed), handle travel on the bus and train (including reading the many signs indicating the once-mighty German rail lines are running late again), decipher pop songs on the radio (and Adam Sandler movies), and make (limited) small talk. I can also rattle off most fruits and vegetables and kitchen verbs, thanks in large part to cooking several dishes from a German recipe book. But the true test of our German skills is tackling the morning visit to the local Bäckerei for fresh breakfast rolls (Brötchen). (more…)
A few days ago, M and I took advantage of a regional train pass that allowed us to head anywhere in the state of Bayern (Bavaria) for a combined fare of €26. We first rode the bus to Aschaffenburg where we boarded a two-hour local train to the city of Wϋrzburg. We hadn’t done much research before selecting it as our destination for a one-night adventure (inexpensive, interesting, and semi-local were our main requirements), and we weren’t sure what to expect. Perhaps for that reason, we were quickly captivated by the place. (more…)
We’ve been in Germany just ten days, but it feels like a lifetime…in a good way. We left Ireland last Tuesday after a fantastic week, capped off with two active days in Dublin. It was a short, productive flight to Frankfurt; M worked on the poetry book he’s co-editing, and I practiced my German (which needs a bit of practice). Our flight landed nearly an hour late, but M’s uncle and cousin were waiting patiently for us just past customs. We had initially planned to take the train, but after a long week of travel, we were grateful for their offer to pick us up. We chatted all the way back to their house in a small town along the Main River south of the city of Aschaffenburg.
We stayed local the first few days, getting used to another time zone and catching up with M’s family. We’ve traveled here each of the past two summers, but in prior years, our visits have been planned around M’s cousins’ weddings. It’s a nice change of pace to be without a formal agenda on this trip. (more…)
We left Clifden Thursday morning with our sights set on tiny Achill Island on Ireland’s west coast. It was slated as a short drive (less than two hours), but we planned to take our time. Our first stop—just twenty minutes or so from the inn—was at Connemara National Park. On any other day, we would have trekked to the top of the park’s famous (and fog-covered) Diamond Hill. But two days before a marathon is not the time to take on an unknown hike (any hike, really). (more…)
The highlight of our time in Clifden was our two-night stay at the Hillside Lodge, a modern B&B located on Sky Road a mile or so from the town center. Our room was comfy and cozy, the perfect place for adjusting to the time change and convenient base for exploring the town on foot. One of the owners works in the music industry, and the home is a carefully-curated treasure of music memorabilia. Breakfast each morning consisted of a fresh pot of coffee, generous cold buffet (with fresh fruit, stewed prunes, and homemade granola) and hot selection cooked to order (based on a menu we filled out the prior evening). Their vegetarian version of a traditional Irish breakfast included veggie sausage, baked beans, and a potato cake. It was delicious and satisfied us for most of the day. (more…)
We arrived in Prague Thursday afternoon on a regional train from Leipzig via Dresden. C and S are traveling with us on this leg of the trip, and we are happy to have the company. (As an added bonus, we’ve been able to join them as guests in the Deutsche Bahn lounges at every train station…) After a steamy 45-minute walk to the hotel, we happily dropped off our packs and roamed the neighborhood. We stumbled upon a fantastic restaurant (Stará Doba) where we sat in a sunken beer garden and feasted on Czech beer, fried cheese, fresh bread, and roasted vegetables…all for around $12 per person. After dinner, we picked up ‘to go’ beers at a corner store and continued to wander around, getting a feel for the city and stopping only for cover under a bus stop shelter while a thunderstorm rolled through. (While we waited, M and C chatted up a Canadian couple on a bicycling trip who have already logged more than 600 miles across Europe…) We made our way back to the hotel just as it was getting dark (after 10:00 PM local time) and quickly fell asleep, exhausted from our travels and excited about the next day of adventure ahead of us.
We’ve been in Europe for over a week now and have yet to post an update. Not for lack of things to talk about, but more for lack of time to write and infrequent internet access. Tonight, in Prague of all places, we have free Wi-Fi at the hotel and are back in our room at a reasonable hour. So a quick update! We’ve had a series of amazing adventures since arriving in Germany last week, beginning with three days of family festivities surrounding M’s cousin’s wedding. We attended the civil ceremony at the town hall, or Rathaus, and the church ceremony in Aschaffenburg, where M read a passage in German during the service. There was also a garden party in the rain, complete with an outdoor viewing of the Germany-Italy semi-final game of the Euro Cup and plenty of strong beer. We next explored Berlin for two days before meeting up with M’s cousin, C, and his wife, S, at their apartment in Leipzig. After we logged an early training run through the park yesterday, C and S showed us around town, including a huge monument to the 1813 War of Nations battle at Leipzig (Google it…). We wandered around the university area and stopped at some of their favorite pubs and bookstores. At the monument, we climbed to the top for a view of the city, but the picture here doesn’t do the experience justice. We made our way back to their apartment and capped off our non-traditional 4th of July with a balcony barbecue of tofu curry wurst and grilled gouda and hours of conversation in at least two languages. It was a fantastic evening to close a perfect day. We didn’t even miss the fireworks.
After two weeks in the Virginia mountains, we hit the road yesterday with the goal of picking up a few more “new” states and national parks before we head back to New England for a while. We spent Saturday night in Kingsport, a small manufacturing city in northeast Tennessee we first discovered on our March road trip. Upon arrival, we made full use of the hotel’s fantastic gym, indoor pool, hot tub, and restaurant. This morning, we drove to the Kingsport Greenbelt, a recently-completed mixed-surface fitness trail that traverses nearly ten miles of the town. We were a bit surprised by the hilly terrain, which was a change of pace (literally) from the flat rail trail we’d run a few times in Virginia, but the pleasant scenery helped the time and miles pass. We completed an enjoyable 4-mile run before heading back to clean up and repack the car. We took a driving tour of downtown and then hit the highway to conquer the remaining stretch of I-81. We picked up I-40 into Knoxville, home to the University of Tennessee, where we made a spontaneous decision to take a break and check out the downtown area. We parked in a city garage (free on Sundays!) and wandered around a bit before deciding on a place to eat. We enjoyed the weather and the people-watching as we ate a late outdoor brunch in Market Square. We picked up coffee for the road before driving the last leg of the day down to Chattanooga, on Tennessee’s southern border with Georgia. Chattanooga was featured in a magazine article we read last year as the best place to live for outdoor enthusiasts, and it’s been on our list of places to check out ever since. The weather is looking stormy tomorrow, so we’re off to study the hourly radar with the hopes of picking the right hour for a running tour of downtown… -J