An Afternoon Layover in Frankfurt, Germany

Settle in, folks. Stories from another adventure abroad have begun, so you'll be here listening to these until Christmas 2019 at the rate I usually tell them. Kidding. I hope.

So, Frankfurt! In all the excitement of planning and anticipating our two weeks in the Balkans, the fact that we'd have seven whole hours in Frankfurt completely slipped our minds. Which is ridiculous because I mean, how often can you just casually throw around the statement, I'll be spending my afternoon in Germany. Thus, two days before our flight, I was frantically searching every nook and cranny of Google, trying to cobble together a decent plan for our layover. As these things go, once I was deep in the rabbit hole, I became obsessed with all things Frankfurt, and couldn't mask my glee for a second the moment we landed.

It took us quite some time to actually leave the airport, what with EMTs called onto our plane, the huuuuge terminal, getting lost trying to locate the luggage storage and S-bahn station, the least helpful signs of all time that had us walking around in circles, and our lack of smaller Euro bills to buy train tickets (thank you SO much, friendly German strangers!). But once we did emerge on the other side, oh boy were we in for a treat!
It was when Leah and I arrived at Frankfurt's main train station that it finally hit us–we're in freaking Europe now! We took a second to stand there in the middle of the madness, people around us coming and going and rushing to their next destinations, and we took it all in. And then, Leah kept on exclaiming, you mean I can literally just hop on one of these and go to Paris?! Or Amsterdam?

I was all, slow it down, buddy. Let's see Frankfurt first!

We somehow managed to find the U-bahn that took us to Römerberg, the historic square of the city. Though we were warned of Römerberg's touristy nature, we were still utterly charmed at first sight. Ignoring the souvenir shops and the tourist trap restaurants, Leah and I meandered about the square, stopping for a photo here and marveling at the architecture there.
Before long, we couldn't ignore our grumbling stomachs anymore–subpar airplane food could only sustain us for so long. We followed the flow of the crowd (itineraries be damned!) towards what looked like the more modern part of town, and ducked under the awning of a restaurant that we noticed a few locals stopping by. 
They didn't lead us astray! We feasted on bratwurst and paprikawurst, sandwiched by a deliciously chewy and crusty bun, washed down with bottles of Apfelwein (which we thought tasted like very diluted apple cider). This was likely the most documented ten minutes of our trip–those bratwursts starred in Instagrams, Snapchat, Boomerang, DSLR photos, and iPhone photos and videos.

We'll blame it on the jet lag.
As we were eating, I noticed a piece of paper pinned onto a light pole with an arrow and the word Kleinmarkthalle, a big food market that I'd read about online. After brushing crumbs off of ourselves, we followed the sign and explored the market that was literally around the corner–pastry shops, fresh fruits and vegetables, butcher shops, it had everything! 
Next, we headed towards the banks of the Main River, and strolled leisurely alongside the rest of the Frankfurt crowd.

It was so picturesque, you guys.

We basked under the bright sun, taking in the bright, bright blue sky. We watched as the elderly ambled up and down the sidewalk aided by walkers, and more nimble folk speed by on skateboards and bikes. It reminded me so much of the banks of the Seine river, albeit much more lowkey. In fact, from one particular vantage point from the pedestrian bridge, I would not have been able to tell the Main and the Seine apart. Alas, once you looked outwards past the river and its banks, there was a distinctly different vibe. New England college town meets Paris, if you will.
Above is the vantage point I was speaking of! There's even a church right where the Notre Dame would stand. Am I crazy?! 

Weighed down by heavy tote bags, Leah and I decided to search for a cafe at which we could take a breather. Realizing that Cafe Sugar Mama, touted by many travel guide as the hip place to grab a bite, was in our close vicinity, I championed hard for a visit.
Truly a gem! A blogger's dream: adorably mismatched furniture, lots of funky pillows and lush greenery. Plenty of outdoor seating where you can stake out for optimal sunshine and people-watching. Best of all–lovely cappuccinos and treats. Leah and I shared a delicious crumb-cake, topped up with juicy peaches and ice cold creamy vanilla ice cream, much appreciated on such a hot day.
Feeling stuffed, we agreed on one last wander, this time up and over the pedestrian bridge Eiserner Steg, where we enjoyed unparalleled views.
Older, more traditional side of Frankfurt. 
And the more modern hub of banks and shopping centers and office buildings: 
All stunning, truly!

With that, we romped through delightful Römerberg one more time (doesn't it remind you of Disneyland?!), located the U-bahn, and waved 'Auf Wiedersehen' to Germany. For someone who's never stepped foot in the country before, it was a most wonderful introduction. I'm scheming to return ASAP to see more of Germany!

But alas, for the time being, it was time to bow out and await our midnight flight into Belgrade, Serbia.

Have you ever been to Germany / Frankfurt? Did I miss out on anything? For those of you who have a long Frankfurt layover in your foreseeable future, hit me up for super specific instructions on finding S-Bahn/U-bahn stations and a simple Frankfurt itinerary! I went kind of crazy of Google Maps, yikes.

A Vacation From My Vacation

Well, well, well.

Look who decided to show up round these parts again?

As you might already know (because I yapped about it endlessly), I was off in Europe for the first two weeks of September. Three words: it was epic. So epic that I needed a vacation when I returned from my vacation. You know the kind: the catch-upcation. Tackling the inbox, unpacking, facing the laundry pile, daydreaming about being back in Europe, making peace with the fact that my flight back might as well have been a strange time warp. You see, I left the US in a summer state of mind, and came back to the height of football season, the end of a financial quarter at work, fall TV shows premiering (which, to be fair, shouldn’t have taken me by surprise because I've had my favorite shows' return dates penciled into my calendar since like December), and Instagrams of pumpkins and sweaters galore. 

What even?! I’m not ready for this! I was in a freaking bathing suit last week!

What’s making my mind even more loopy is that we’re starting San Francisco’s Indian Summer - so while the calendar and Instagram is screaming FALL at me, SF is all like, lol here are some sweltering 90 degree days and no air-conditioning for you, my friend.

AND. Lastly. I’ve also been tres nostalgic lately. Last week marked 5 years since I was a college freshman. This month marks a year since I moved into my big girl apartment in San Francisco, and in a couple of weeks, it’ll be my work anniversary. 

This is all to say… vacations. They throw you for a spin, don’t they? And September, too. September throws you on quite the loop-de-loop, as well.

I’ll elaborate on this nostalgia and, of course, the trip in the weeks to come. But for now...

Tell me. What have you been up to, friends?!

Olympic Events I'd Medal In... If They Existed

So, get this. Two of my freshman dormmates competed in the Olympics this year. Three, if you count a girl who practically lived there too. That's like 5% of my freshman dorm. Not only that, one took home a bronze medal from London, one won a gold in Rio just last week, and that third girl nagged a gold medal (and MVP status!) in both Rio and London. BOSS.

Meanwhile, I would like to point out that I excel at eating Mexican food like it's going out of business. Actually, let me rephrase. The Mexican restaurant that I live above did indeed go out of business on Saturday, and to bid it a proper farewell–I ate there four days in a row last week. Take THAT, Olympians!!

That got me thinking. If the Olympics were to more accurately represent my skillset, which events would I have a shot at being top dog?

Speed-Alarm-Clock-Snoozing, for one. My reflexes and memorization of the iPhone 'slide-to-turn-off' technique is on point. There's also (Not) Decision-Making. I will outlast any hem-and-hawer out there, weighing options and debating pro's and con's till kingdom come. I'm also the last one standing in all Netflix battles: a strength that I have trained over many years of sharing my best friend's mom's account with like six other people. I persevere through all "too many device" warnings, and keep clicking refresh, I tell you. 
I'm always a winner when it comes to finding a kitty or puppy belly to scratch, and am easily conditioned into providing treats for all four-legged creatures at their first meow or bark (yes, Coach Jerry, of course Coach Jerry).

When it comes to relays, I'll have you know that I'm an incredible baton-passer. A few weeks ago, Cassandra was en route to Bosnia and needed to show customs a copy of a bus ticket... which wasn't yet purchased, and she needed it in about 15 minutes. So here I was at work, frantically trying to book a bus ticket on a Croatian website, but I texted her the ticket with seconds to spare... except customs ended up not needing to see it at all. 

Other "sports" I'm particularly good at: bargain-hunting, cupcake-tasting, taste-testing in general, napping, procrastinating, procrastinapping, speed-walking when I see the word "sale," scaring myself silly at an oddly suspenseful episode of Pretty Little Liars, caffeinating, perhaps overcaffeinating, figuring whodunnit on police dramas, and creatively exaggerating to my mother my fruit and vegetable intake of the day.

Let's leave it at that.

Tell me friends, which Olympic sports–real or not–do you excel at? Did you totally binge on the Olympics this year? What was your favorite moment? WHY IS IT OVER.

Life Lately :: In Anticipation

My thoughts upon greeting Monday morning once again:

You again.

*snarl*

Except, I'm not as pissed as I typically am at my long string of wake up alarms because each one brings me a little closer to vacation. I'm in that state of antsy anticipation at the moment–the kind where you purposely erect roadblocks in your mind so as to stop thinking up torturous countdowns, but then do it anyway.

Here's what I can tell you: I'm 18 days, or two point five weeks, or two weekends, or 17 lunches, or like eight major to-do list items, or one big Amazon shipment away from boarding a jetplane to paradise. I. Can't. Wait. (But I have to.) In the meantime, I'll distract myself by sharing some of what I've been up to on the day-to-day...
EATING // slightly more healthfully, as much as that baffles me. I started a diet at the beginning of the month, which ended the day after because my coworkers pulled a jerk move and brought fresh banana bread AND chocolate cake to the office. But even so, I've noticed that our beloved Annie's mac and cheese boxes have been pushed to the back of the pantry. There's still quite the gray area though, like the honey-roasted peanut butter that you self-grind in Whole Foods. We've finished off close to two huge tubs of it in not even two weeks. But it's from Whole Foods so it's okay. Call an intervention!!

Also, Halo Top ice cream. Another obsession in our household. There are currently six pints stockpiled in our freezer, and we hold nightly taste-test fests. Oops.

LISTENING // to the Hamilton soundtrack. It's my power playlist when I need to GSD! Is that weird? Also, sometimes at work I listen to Spotify playlists from college and I get goosebumps and tear up and then shimmy quietly to some Macklemore thanking the universe that I'm not engulfed in a sea of sweaty bodies at a frat in that moment.

WATCHING // White Collar. I'm obsessed! I went from a months-long SVU kick that had me watching the entire series backwards starting from the last episode and enthralled in court procedures and penciling the fall premiere date into my calendar (I'm serious. It's September 21st.) to bingeing on Matt Bomer's pretty eyes every night before bed.
FOLLOWING // the Olympics, obvs, albeit not obsessively as I've had in the past. There's just something about Twitter spoilers that make watching replays so very anticlimactic. My friend's competing in diving today though so I'll be glued to the TV for sure!

AVOIDING // checking in on my credit card statement. You guys, it's horrendous. So many travel expenses, and so much left still to buy. But c'mon, I NEEDED my Turkish towel because think of the Instagrams and also I needed the cutest picnic basket ever that I snatched up at a neighborhood garage sale because again, think of the Instagrams. Well okay, the picnic basket isn't going in my carry-on, but that would've been perFECTION I tell you.

DAYDREAMING ABOUT // do you even need to ask. Strolling the streets of Sarajevo, sunning on a sailboat in Dubrovnik, eating the best ice cream in the world in Belgrade, and admiring views in Kotor. 

HUSTLING // hard, this week. And last week, and next week, and all the weeks except those first two weeks of September. Ok, I'll stop, I realize all this vacation talk when it isn't even vacation yet is getting stupid.

Happy Monday! What're you looking forward to this week?


Dusk At Santa Cruz Boardwalk

Speaking of that summery feeling, it went into overdrive for me a few weeks ago when Leah and I on a whim decided to drive over to Santa Cruz (on a school night!). We tossed a blanket into the car, threw on sweatshirts over work blouses, and settled into the car with snacks and the radio. We pulled up to the Boardwalk not too long before dusk and as the crowd was clearing up, and let me tell you, it was like walking into the pages of a Sarah Dessen book.

Did you guys ever read those? I was a huge sucker for them and any other young adult novel espousing small town summers: the summer jobs at the supermarket or the movie theater, the late nights spent somewhere special, the diners where everyone knows everyone.

The Santa Cruz Boardwalk felt like all of that came to life. The teenagers manning the funnel cake stands, the shrill shrieks of those aboard the loopy wooden roller coaster, the cheesy theme park music, the sandy shore stretching way into the distance.
We walked onward, along the pier, and then heard indignant barking beckoning from below. Curious, we craned our necks and saw: 
Sea lions! 
I Snapchatted this above image to our two closest friends, proclaiming: wish we were all snuggling like this! Sure enough, a couple of weeks later, the four of us crashed at Leah's place and we slept piled up side-by-wide width-wise across her bed. I fell asleep thinking comically, ask and you shall receive.
Before long, the sun began its descent, and we quietly waved it "see you in the morning bright and early when we're back at it again with the work life" and continued on in blissful ignorance. We found ourselves another slice of small town wonder–a dessert parlor selling delightful treats like frozen bananas dipped in chocolate: 
With that, we headed towards downtown Santa Cruz in search of some more substantial grub. Finding that most restaurants were already closed, we ducked into the first place we found open–a fast food-style Indian restaurant. The spicy bites of chicken vindaloo warmed us up on such a breezy night, and wholly satisfied, we retreated back home where we went to bed at a somewhat decent hour only to wake up and face the office coffee and computer screens once more.

Oh but what a delight it was to live out a Sarah Dessen book, if only for an evening!

What were your summers like growing up? Were you a Sarah Dessen fan?

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