Trips and Training

“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.”

I saw this quote by Lin Yutang somewhere not long ago during a particularly melancholy state of longing for our Berlin life and got to thinking about where we were last year at this time and where we are now. One year ago we were working and living in Berlin- planning our Spring trips to Paris and Greece and eagerly awaiting the open airs and biergartens that were just around the corner. This year life is a little different, but the urge and desire to continue our exploration of this big, beautiful world is not. We may not be traversing the sophisticated capitals of Europe, but we love the opportunities we’ve had to explore the west and the ridiculously vast city of Los Angeles. It’s been an especially exciting couple of weeks for this travel loving pair.

The last week of February I left for a Mexican girl-getaway with my lovely friend Emily and three of her Denver buds and my new friends, Sarah, Katrina and Meredith. Emily’s grandma generously offered up her timeshare in Cabo and we had a wonderful week lounging by the pool and the ocean, dining on Mexican food and enjoying lots and lots of girl talk. We traversed into town to dine at some of Emily’s favorite restaurants, Mamas and Ponchos and we also indulged in a sunset boat cruise through the Sea of Cortez and out to the Pacific side of the peninsula.  It was relaxing and refreshing and so good to catch up with one of my favorite friends!

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While I was sunning on a Mexican beach Dave was heading north to Tahoe for a weekend of skiing with his parents and Jack. They weren’t blessed with the best weather, but were still able to get some good runs in. I know Dave misses being able to ski as often as he used to so I’m always happy when he gets the chance to make it out to the mountains. They had three nights in Tahoe before heading back to Southern California. Unfortunately there were some issues with their plane and they ended up having to rent a car and drive down, but they made it one piece and just in time for Dave’s 29th birthday on March 5.

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It was a low-key birthday compared to what we’ve done in years past and we spent most of the day showing Al and Melissa around Huntington Gardens. The Gardens have become one of our favorite Pasadena spots and with our membership we’re often able to take advantage of the visiting hours. After a long morning/afternoon of checking out the grounds we headed back to my parent’s house for a snack and to bid Al and Melissa good bye before they hit the road and made their way to a conference in the Palm Springs area. Dave and I had a relaxing afternoon before heading into Pasadena for a birthday dinner and then a few more drinks at a local Sierra Madre bar.

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The very next day we were up early to pack and start the trek out to Arizona with my parents and Maddie. We’ve been talking about it for years and finally put our words into action when we planned a 3 night trip out to the Phoenix/Tempe area for Spring Training. The drive from LA is only between 5-6 hours and our family friend Gina generously agreed to put us all up while we were there.

Friday we caught a game at the Dodger’s Camelback Ranch. They beat the Rangers 2-1 and we were able to see Hanley Ramirez rip a homer. It is a really beautiful complex shared by the Dodgers and the White Sox with a number of practice fields, batting cages and other facilities for players and fans to take advantage of. We had great seats just 5 rows up from the field and halfway down the first base line.

Right after the game we drove over to the University of Phoenix football stadium for a guided tour. We got to see the stadium for a variety of seats including the press area and a private box. We went into the visitor’s locker room and were able to get a view of the grass that they mechanically maneuver before each game. The stadium will be host to the 2015 Super Bowl, so it was pretty cool to check it out while we were in the area.

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Saturday we took in another game at the Angels’ spring training stadium in Tempe. The Angels lost to the Diamondbacks, but we still had a great time checking out a new stadium and seeing some more great players and prospects. That night we drove up to Scottsdale to walk around the city and had dinner at a sushi restaurant off the main drag. Scottsdale was beautifully lit up with Christmas lights down every main street and there were tons of people out enjoying the evening.

Sunday brought our last day in Arizona. Dave and I decided to take advantage of our work-less states and stay a few more hours to catch one last game before driving back to LA. We thought about trying to see the Cubs play the Brewers at the Cub’s new stadium, but the game was sold out so we settled on Seattle v. Texas at the Mariner’s complex up in Peoria. We were incredibly glad we did. The lawn seats were cheap at $8 each and we had a great spot out in the right field grass. Seattle’s food and beverage options were by far the best of the three parks we visited. We were able to purchase 24oz. Red Hook beers for just $7.50 and the variety of food options available were far superior to both the Dodgers and Angels parks- they even had a “kooky coffee” stand…oh Seattle. The Mariner’s pulled off an 8th inning comeback scoring 5 runs to win 9-8. It was an exciting end to the game and the weekend.

After the game we loaded into the car and drove nonstop back to Sierra Madre, listening to a thousand Moth podcasts along the way. A good old road trip was the perfect way to wrap up a couple of fun, adventure filled weeks. In the coming months we’re looking forward to continuing our travels close to home and are hoping to include Austin, San Francisco and the Northwest in our upcoming itineraries. We’ll see what happens, but I have a feeling it won’t be long before the open road calls to us again:)

White Christmas

Merry (belated) Christmas and Happy New Year!

IMG_0030The first weeks in December were filled with lots of fun Christmas decorating and gift preparations. We had a great time celebrating our friend Blake’s birthday at a Great Gatsby themed soiree and were able to make it out Santa Monica to visit our friend from UPS, Gaelen. We also finally got out to hike in Runyon Canyon and I had another girls night with the ladies. The weekend before we left for Maine my parents treated us to a play at A Noise Within theater. We saw their rendition of a Christmas Carol and loved it! The day before we flew out we did “Christmas” with my family- preparing a plethora of our favorite foods, opening some gifts and watching some classic Christmas films.

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We landed in Maine about a week before Christmas Day and attempted to adjust to the drastic change in temperature from CA to ME: 81° to 7°!!! It was a bit of a shock to our weakened California blood, but we soon came around.

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We have been able to catch up with a lot of our east coast friends in town for the holidays- watching Sunday football, celebrating Amy’s 30th at Novare Res and hitting up a few of the different Portland bars including a one that was hosting a Stevie Wonder tribute night. I also was able to spend a day in Boston with my friend Becky. It was so good to catch up after WAY TOO long. She indulged my desire to head into our old neighborhood, Brookline, so I could eat at Dorado- my favorite Boston eatery.

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In addition to time with friends we’ve been able to spend a lot of quality time with the Chebuske/Hewey clan. On Christmas Eve we had a delectable fondue dinner at the Hewey’s house, which was followed by some lovely Christmas carols. Dave, Jack and I went to Christmas Eve service at the nearby church later that night and it was a beautiful way to ring in the holiday.

The next morning we arose early to open stockings and squeeze oranges for fresh juice (one of the many fun Christmas traditions around the Chebuske home). The rest of the family came over and we had a great day opening generous gifts, playing games, eating TONS of delicious food and relaxing. It was my first Christmas in Portland and I had a great time!

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We still have a week left in Maine before we head back to California. We are excited to celebrate New Years tonight with family and friends at a couple different locations and then kick back tomorrow and watch the Rose Parade and game on TV. It’s been the absolute best year and I’ll be a little sad to say goodbye to 2013, but we both are incredibly excited about the future (which will hopefully include some fantastic new jobs).  Looking forward to catching up with you in 2014!!! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

Skiing in Austria and (Hopefully) Saying Goodbye to Winter

It’s been a busy few weeks here in Germany as Adrian and I have been doing a lot to prepare for our trip back to the USA this fall and of course for our wedding on October 12. It’s amazing how much work gets put into these events! But we are very lucky to have lots of help from people back home and it looks like the whole thing is starting to take shape. We are already getting excited to see everyone and to finally get married!

Meanwhile we’ve fit in some time to have some fun as well, especially me! I just got back from my second annual trip to the Zillertal Valley in Austria for a week of skiing with my friends from school. We had a great time and the trip was just as successful as last year. After a brief stopover in Prague for one night to grab some supplies and an extra car to transport all six of us and our gear we drove 7 hours down to Austria to the same exact cabin we stayed in last year. It’s always nice to return to a vacation spot that you’ve already been to because there are no surprises: No getting lost on the way, no nervousness about dealing with the ownership, no ‘extra charge’ you aren’t expecting. We were able to start relaxing and plan our ski excursions right away.

The cabin we stay at is several miles from the ski area up a long, winding, snowy road which is inconvenient in some ways, but well worth it. You’ll see why by looking at a few pictures of the place:

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As you can see, it’s a cozy place that’s perfect for relaxation and it has great mountain views right outside the door. We love it!

The Zillertal Valley is a great place to go skiing because there are actually 5 different areas you can drive to in the valley to ski at and one lift ticket works for all of them. It’s not exactly cheap (200€ for 6 days) but there is a ton of variety available which keeps the place interesting for a week of skiing. In fact last year we didn’t even go to Hoch Zillertal which turned out to be our favorite ski area this year.

The best thing about skiing in the Alps I think is the amazing views you get just from riding up the lift. It’s quite an amazing back drop to have whether you are eating lunch or skiing down the mountain. Here are a few pics of some of the great views you get:

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One of the worst things about skiing in the alps is the crowds: many of the trails are so crowded here that it can be difficult to turn and steer around all of the people. Luckily, most of the skiers aren’t ‘experts’, so to speak. As long as you don’t mind skiing some of the more difficult terrain, you can avoid them. Many people come to this area just because of it’s reputation as a party town, especially the village of Mayrhofen. Austria in general is famous for its Apres Ski and I think many of the the people clogging up the trails are more interested in their next Weisbier or Jagermeister than the are their next run down the mountain. Which is fine by me: whatever keeps them off of the powder snow!

We enjoyed a little of the Apres Ski our selves (of course)… it’s a little cheesy but as long as you forget your inhibitions for a moment and try to just have a good time it can be fun. One of my favorite things about Austria is the attitude of the people there. Everyone is really just there to relax and have a good time. All of the smiles you see on peoples faces are pretty genuine and ours were no different.

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While I was in Austria Adrian had a good week of work and was able to go out with some of her friends a few times. Jess and Steph also stopped back for a night before heading stateside.

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Once I returned to Berlin we celebrated our 1 year engagement anniversary by walking back through the Tiergarten and grabbing a beer at our favorite biergarten. We were the only people brave (or dumb) enough to sit outside in the weather, but we had fun “reliving” our engagement.  Two days later it was my birthday on the 5th of March. I turned 28 and after a night out to celebrate with some friends on the 4th, Adrian took me out for a fancy and delicious dinner at a  French restaurant. We don’t eat expensive meals very often, so when we do it’s a real treat. The restaurant was called Heising and it was run by a very nice and accommodating old couple. It was a little more fancy in the interior than we are used to, but the food was absolutely delicious! I especially enjoyed the oysters and Scallops (being a native Mainer, I have always had a thing for shellfish)  and they surprised us with a complimentary brandy at the end of our meal.

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Adrian also surprised me with a trip to Paris as a present for my Birthday! She knows I am a bit of a Francophile and have a been wanting to go France for some time and what more perfect time to go then Paris in the spring? We are renting a apartment we found on Airbnb which is quickly becoming one of our favorite ways to find rooms to stay. We also found a great place in Budapest with them and are looking forward to seeing how this Paris room works out. Any suggestions for what to do in Paris?

For the next few weeks until our Paris trip, I expect to keep fairly busy working on my Master’s Thesis. My proposal is due in early April so I am looking forwarding to handing that in and getting it approved so I can get started on the real thing. It’s amazing how time flies; I feel like I just started school, but now it’s almost over. And hopefully the snow stops soon so we can start enjoying all the great things to do in Berlin come nicer weather!

Trip to the Alps

To celebrate finishing our first semester a few of my fellow classmates and I took a trip to Austria to go skiing. The trip turned out great! Here is what we did, with a few pictures to check out. I stole the pics from facebook so thanks to Matt and Anastasia for them!

Our plan was to leave early Friday morning around 10am, but we didn’t finish our last exam until Thursday afternoon and many of us were out late that night. We didn’t end up leaving till around 1. It was quite a hungover trip, but I had a good time riding on the Autobahn. The Germans drive really fast…. they think nothing of going 190 kpm (120 mph). No wonder their cars are so nice.

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