Exploring the world one word…and one mile…at a time

Latest

Revisiting Rothenburg

n

L to R: The streets of Rothenburg; The famous wall; Delicious Schneeballen!

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. Read the rest of this page »

Brötchen and Handball: Our German Stay-Cation

L to R: The TVG handball team; morning along the Main; garden scenes and fresh bounty.

L to R: The TVG handball team; morning along the Main; garden scenes and fresh bounty.

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). Read the rest of this page »

Wandering Around Wϋrzburg

L to R: Riding the rails into Wurzburg; street scene on our way to Kult; tasty vegL to R:gie finds; Bavarian beer; posing with the locals (it's election season here...)

L to R: Riding the rails into Wurzburg; street scene on our way to Kult; tasty veggie finds; Bavarian beer; and posing with the locals (it’s election season here…)

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. Read the rest of this page »

Runner’s High, German Style!

blah

L to R: Ummm…this way to number pick-up, I think; The Start/Finish (Ziel) line; Team “Partner Look” pre-race; The socks post-race; Our race swag.

J and I run a lot of races. However, since many of our races take place while traveling, it’s rare that we get to run with friends. Yes, running is an individual sport, but taking on a race with friends is much better than going it alone. While J and I are always each other’s personal cheering squad, a bigger group means even more positive energy.

Today, we joined T & S for a 10K race in Elsenfeld, Germany, a small town near Groβwallstadt where we are staying. In some ways, the race was like most American races: there were timing chips, a DJ, t-shirts, water stops, etc. In other ways, it was totally different: Read the rest of this page »

Grüße aus Deutschland! (Greetings from Germany!)

L to R: Our flight from Dublin to Frankfurt; practicing my German;

L to R: On our flight from Dublin to Frankfurt; practicing my German at 38,000 feet; the main street in the town where M’s family lives; exploring the Johannesburg Castle in Aschaffenburg; and the cast of “Spring Awakening”…auf Deutsch.

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. Read the rest of this page »

It’s All About People (Even for an Introvert Like Me)

These pictures illustrate the places where we met them, but this post is about the various people we encountered in Ireland. L to R: the Achill Ultra starting line; the village at Achill Sound; the Galaxy Bar; Gallagher’s Boxty House; and the Yeats exhibit at NLI.

Greetings from Germany…specifically from our cousins’ home south of Frankfurt.  We’ve only been here for one full day, but we already feel settled in and are so grateful for their hospitality and friendship.  We tackled our first post-marathon run together (six scenic miles along the Main River) and enjoyed our first German beers of the trip, including a specially-formulated alcohol-free beer with added vitamins designed for consumption after sports.  Running just got even better!

But before we fill our minds and hearts with new people and adventures here in Germany, we wanted to give a shout out to some of the wonderful folks we met in Ireland.  Read the rest of this page »

11 Things I Learned on Achill Island

AU1

L to R: Signage just before crossing the bridge into Achill Sound; J and me battling our nerves on race morning; race course signage (the roads were open); the start and finish line as the ultra runners began; mile marker near the finish line showing all three events.

The Achill Ultra race series on Achill Island in Ireland consisted of three events: a half marathon (13.1 miles), a full marathon (26.2 miles) and an ultra-marathon (a whopping 39.3 miles). There were just over 200 runners across all three races, making this a very personal affair. While most of the runners were Irish, we met folks from Ontario and New Jersey as well. And of course, we were in from New Hampshire. Read the rest of this page »

We’re Off on the Road to Achill Island

capt

Scenes from our stop at Connemara National Park

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).  Read the rest of this page »

Easing Into European Time

Hillside

Scenes from the Hillside Lodge (L to R): M settling in to our room; music memories lining the hallway; the sunny breakfast room; fresh buffet; and delicious veggie breakfast.

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. Read the rest of this page »

Day 1 in Ireland: Cliffs, Cars, and Clifden

Ireland

Day 1 adventures (L to R:) Sunset takeoff from Boston; our tiny, barely-automatic rental car; looking south at the Cliffs of Moher; O’Brien’s Tower atop the cliffs; and veggie fare in Galway.

Greetings from Ireland!  We left from Boston Monday evening on an overnight flight to Shannon Airport on Ireland’s west coast.  Our plan to sleep through the flight and wake up refreshed in the morning was foiled by the fact that you can really only manage about two hours of sleep on a six-hour flight.  So we were more than a little sleepy upon arrival and quickly downed two airport coffees to jump-start our new day.  We picked up the rental car we had reserved in advance, having splurged an extra $100 or so for an automatic.  We’d heard tales of terror about driving on Irish roads, and although we can both drive a stick shift, we didn’t want the added pressure of figuring out how to do that with our left hands.  Driving on the right side of the car on the left side of narrow roads while navigating endless roundabouts would be tricky enough. Read the rest of this page »