Monday, February 22, 2010

While I'm unpacking...

Apologies for being MIA for quite some time... this apartment thing is seriously taking over my life, but the good news is we only have a few last minute things to move (like Stefan's fish tank) and then it's on to the fun of unpacking and decorating.

If that wasn't enough, we're going to be getting a new kitchen, so it looks like I'll have more reason to sample some of the restaurants in our neighborhood over the next couple weeks.

I wanted to leave you with a few beautiful travel inspired works of art made by the über talented Julene Harrison.

She painstakingly cuts her images by hand!

If an original cut work commission is out of your price realm you can purchase some of her laser cut prints on etsy! Some of my favorites are her city series, including: New York, Paris, and London.

(images: Julene Harrison)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

This year is extra special, because it's also the Chinese New Year / Year of the Tiger!

We celebrated with a much deserved dinner after a full day of packing. Thankfully everything will be finished by this time next week, including furniture deliveries. (Can I tell you how happy I will be when this is finally over?)

For dinner we went to Emiko, a restaurant that opened shortly before we left for our trip, in the new Louis hotel at Viktualienmarkt. The food is Japanese inspired and it was excellent. Lots of tiny portions served family style, which ensured a lot of variety. They also had a lot of little origami decorations hanging around for a sweet touch.

It was such a great way to celebrate - a mix of old favorites (a bottle of one of our favorite wines, Grüner Veltliner) and new classics (touches of Japan when we're missing Tokyo).

Thursday, February 11, 2010

New Delhi: Day 1

Our arrival into New Delhi was nice, but boy was it hot - already at the break of dawn. We were met with the heat, honking horns, and a bit of chaos. A definite welcome to India.

Reality check #1: Be prepared to sweat more than you thought humanly possible.

We didn't have to negotiate our way around the tuks, because we hired a driver for our stay before we left Munich. A guide and driver promptly met us and gave us marigold leis and bottles of water. That was a much easier way to soothe our jet lag.

Before I left I was constantly told the same words of wisdom about India, 'You either love it or you hate it', and 'Make sure you check your water bottle to make sure it is sealed and hasn't been refilled'.

On our way to our hotel we quickly saw things are very different. We saw what is supposed to become their subway system in anticipation for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, which are to be hosted in New Delhi. Throughout the next days we would constantly hear about it on the news, from our guides, and around the city. Everyone was excited and also a bit curious how things would come together.

Reality check # 2: Forgo any prior knowledge of what is safe and don't tell your Mom about it until you get home.

We were instantly struck at how odd it was driving into town, namely because the highways weren't highways like I know them. Instead any type of transportation was permitted, including animals, bicycles, and pedestrians. Safety was entirely different - often the cars would not have seat belts, seeing 4 or more people on a motorbike was considered the norm - and no one had a helmet on. Car seats for children and babies are nonexistent and they would often be riding on their parent's lap as they drove or sandwiched in and taking a nap to the gentle hum of the motor.

When we arrived at our hotel, in our jet lagged haze, it was culture shock to say the least. Our driver pulled up to our hotel and for a few minutes we actually didn't realize this would be our home away from home, off and on, over the next several weeks.

The hotel reeked of furniture polish when we initially arrived and then we were lead up to our room, which was a wonderful little oasis. We had a large shower area, wireless internet, and the ultimate luxury - air conditioning (we don't even have this in Germany!).

Everyone was very attentive to our every whim and everyone expected a tip as well. This is something else we had been warned about, however weren't entirely prepared for. You see when you convert money they don't often give you small bills, so it's easy to dole out very generous tips. Lesson learned - get small bills pronto!

We got acclimated to the noises and would peer out our window to the dusty street below. There was a small and colorful Hindu temple directly outside with a many visitors ringing a bell throughout the day. We heard the constant honking and from time to time cows mooing or dogs barking.

After resting up we decided to venture out. We had a 'park' in front of our hotel, although walking past was enough. We were armed with directions from the hotel and wandered into the middle of our neighborhood - Karol Bagh. As soon as we walked out the door the heat was absolutely stifling. I tried my best to not breathe in the humid air that was suddenly acrid as we passed open urinals on the street.

We left with a mission - to see the area, take some photos to send our parents, and to buy several bottles of water. The amount of attention we would receive was also a big surprise for us.

It didn't take long before we appreciated another luxury - trash service. The streets were littered with random detritus and I was happy to have worn closed toe shoes. In some areas animals of choice (usually dogs, cows, or pigs) would be scavenging for anything edible. We were faced with the reality that life here is incredibly hard for most.

Our first day in India was intense. We were jet-lagged, tired of sweating, annoyed at getting heckled, and feeling immense guilt for having more than the average person.

Reality check #3: Be grateful for everything... education, family, food... - EVERYTHING.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thank You! much for all of your kind comments, emails, and support.

Life has been keeping us very busy with this move, but I am doing my best to keep up with everything - in addition to reflecting on the past half year and how much our lives have changed.

I can't wait to share everything we saw, learned, and experienced.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Munich to India

I'm not entirely certain how to go about writing the past 4 months... but I will start at the beginning.

We opted away from traveling anywhere that is theoretically accessible for a long weekend, or as a short trip, in favor of further destinations. We could have easily spent 4 months in one country, but our curiosity got the best of us and we wanted to see as much as possible.

There were plenty of things that we had to consider, as well as what to pack, and if we had the proper vaccinations and visas.

We then booked most everything in advance. Since we traveled with the Star Alliance around the world ticket, we were able to easily change dates for free and destinations for a small fee.

This does take some flexibility out of things, but it also provided us with a schedule. After researching the places we would visit we also booked most of our hotels ahead, which ensured us of having nice places to stay and an address to arrive at in each city.

In the end the planning ahead saved us an incredible amount of time and money while providing some extra luxury. After staying in over 35 hotels in the past year we definitely know what we like and what we don't... more about that later.

Since we are largely familiar with the US and Europe we opted to head East, beginning with our first stop in India. The weather during this time of year in Asia is also a key factor. We didn't want to spend our trip in monsoon season or in sweltering temperatures. We figured we would chase the nice weather around the globe and once it cooled off in Japan we'd be heading South of the equator to New Zealand. Mother Nature always has a few tricks up her sleeve, but considering we were spared natural disasters we fared pretty well.

In the days before we left I wrote my preconceived notions of what things would be like in each place, just for comparison when we returned. I was curious how my expectations and ideas would change after visiting. We printed out our confirmations and tickets, laid out everything we'd be taking on our living room floor, checked and double checked, and before we knew it, it was time to leave. Stefan and I constantly looked at each other and stated time and time again, 'This is really happening.'

After our annual visit to Oktoberfest and saying goodbye to friends, family, and co-workers. It was wonderful to have a farewell celebration at the Käfer tent. The very next morning we were on our way.

The meals on the flight were cutely themed - for Oktoberfest and India. Stefan cherished his last Bavarian feast, while I enjoyed the vegetarian Indian option.

We arrived very early the next day (September 23rd) in New Delhi, India and just like that our adventure began.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Color of 2010: Turquoise

Did you see Pantone's new color of the year? Turquoise!

I love this color. It has such a warm feeling and makes me think of a breezy day at the beach. If only I could feel the sun on my face.

While I was home I bought the red spice grinder that perfectly matches our little red refrigerator. They have such a creative product line.

The Pantone people haven't missed a beat either, because they have an ipod touch app for their tremendous color wheel called myPANTONE. I will be snatching Stefan's and using this when it comes time for decorating our new apartment.

We're Moving!

It's been so hard not to share this, but we're moving! Things progressed much quicker than we expected, but we are thrilled.

I'd love to tell you that we are setting up home in Paris or Tokyo... but we're staying put here, in the little village that could - Munich (at least for now - who knows what the future holds).

Our beautiful new apartment is an alt-bau (old building) with tons of character, creaky wooden floors, spacious rooms with high ceilings, and a beautiful little balcony off the kitchen. It gets tons of sun light, which gives me hope that I can rival my Mom's herb garden. Not only that, it's in our same neighborhood, so parting ways with our home won't be so difficult.

While we were back in the US, I constantly saw beautiful pieces of art that I wished so desperately to have wall space for. On every shopping expedition I would say, 'we need more walls!'

I have a great collection and love for art - from my beloved Joe Sorren 'Portrait of Emily', to the piece from our wedding, prints from etsy, antique maps, and zillions of photos from our travels.

And to add to my collection, my parents gifted me the beautiful 'States United' print from etsy's Beauchamping. It's a thoughtful reminder of my home - and it's even heart shaped, just like Ohio, 'the heart of it all'.

Now all we need are more guests!