Once our late winter finally arrived, the mountains that outline our valley, transformed into an even more breathtaking view! Bavaria always seems to have so many things to do throughout the year. But experiencing winter in this part of Germany has been the first time I’ve truly enjoyed the entire winter season from start to finish! Taking advantage of all of the different things to do, we planned an afternoon to go sledding in the mountains with a couple of friends. When I think of going sledding, I envision a short to long hill, taking no longer than 30 seconds to sled down the entire run of a longer hill. I’m used to either walking up on my own, or taking a flat treadmill or rope, running along the path, pulling me up the hill. But sledding here is on a complete different level and extremely intense! We went to a ski resort called Winterrodelbahn Hocheck, located in a town close by called Oberaudof, to experience our first ever real toboggan run! Apparently, Oberaudorf has a long tradition holding national tobogganing championships – who knew that was even a thing?! We rented our old fashioned, wooden sleds and made our way to the top of the seriously intense 3 km toboggan run by taking the long, chair lift up the mountain!
Chiemsee is a large lake located just outside of Rosenheim, which is also known as the Bavarian Sea, being that it is Bavaria’s largest lake. There are cute towns surrounding the lake which transforms into popular destinations in the summer for activities such as swimming, sailing, or even enjoying the various restaurants sitting along the edge of the lake. When Wade & I first moved to Rosenheim in August, we tried to enjoy the last bit of summer by having a beach day on the lake, finishing our day on one of the patios, overlooking the gorgeous view. One of the most popular attractions of Chiemsee is the Herrenchiemsee Palace located on the largest island, sitting in the middle of the lake. Wade and I took our first tour of the palace in the fall and were fascinated by the crazy story that came along with it!
To say I was able to celebrate my birthday in Venice was a pretty surreal thing! While Wade’s parents, Garth & Colleen and Tyler’s parents, Len & Karen, were visiting us in Germany, they really wanted to train into Venice for an overnight trip. It just so happened to work out for us to leave on my birthday! Unfortunately, due to Wade & Tyler only getting one day off a week, left them to have no option but to stay behind in Rosenheim. As Wade was dropping us off at the train station, he told me that my present was him sending me off for the weekend to Venice for my birthday! It was a dream to hear those words alone! Jackie & I hopped onto the 5 hour train ride to Venice with our in-laws for an unforgettable trip! This was the first time I had ever experienced sitting in a seat compartment on a train, which ended up being perfect for the 6 of us! We had our own little private party as we enjoyed the endless scenic views, sipping on multiple glasses of champagne!
One of my favorite experiences while having Wade’s parents, Garth & Colleen visit us, was when we took a trip into Salzburg! Following Wade’s game, the 4 of us hopped onto the train for a night out in the enchanting town. Being that Garth works at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, showing them Casino Salzburg was a must! It’s so very James Bond, being the glamorous casino that it is. After hearing about it from us, they needed to experience it themselves as well! After playing slots and black jack, we sat in the lounge area for a couple of drinks before heading back to our hotel. We had such an amazing night on our double date, before meeting up with Jackie, Tyler and his parents, Len & Karen, who were meeting up with us the following day for our Monday Funday!
We started our morning in Salzburg by meeting everyone at the 100 year old Café Bazar, a legendary Austrian coffee house. The Viennese interior is covered in wood paneling with contrasts of bright white pillars and marble accents, that are warmly lit by the crystal chandeliers, adding elegance to the timeless setting. Seeing everyone sitting with their papers and taking their time in the beautiful coffeehouse, it was easy to visualize the infamous writers and poets who have filled the guest book throughout the years. We enjoyed perfectly poached eggs with honey crusted ham and freshly squeezed juice before beginning our venture around the town.
It had been almost 5 months since we had seen any of our friends or family from back home. When we first moved here in August, I anxiously got our place ready for our first set of visitors who wouldn’t arrive until late December! We were so excited to finally pick up Wade’s parents, Garth & Colleen from the airport! I absolutely adore them and always look forward to our time together. We had so much to catch up on and so many things we wanted to share with them throughout the new town we live in! We took them straight to one of our favorite cafes for brunch, which is one of the few places you can order an actual breakfast that serves eggs. It’s located in an old Cotton Mill complex, where all of the buildings feature the original brick within its interior. Its unique industrial architecture is what makes all of the restaurants and stores within the complex stand out from the rest of its surroundings. When it’s nice out, Wade & I love to sit outside on the patio, overlooking the river that also runs past our house and through Rosenheim. We showed Garth & Colleen the venue that was connected to the café, where we had bought New Year’s Eve tickets for all of us to attend. We warned them how we weren’t sure what this New Year’s Eve party would be like, but thought we should at least give it a try following dinner.
For my family, Christmas holds a special place to us for many reasons. It has always been a major tradition that we have passionately celebrated. My step dad was the one who would ensure our house was filled with Christmas music almost every day throughout December and together with my mom, they would decorate our house from head to toe in Christmas decorations. Together, they created amazing childhood memories for us which resulted in Christmas being our favorite time of year. Ironically, this also became a time of year where we eventually lost my step dad who suddenly passed away on Christmas Eve. Christmas had a different meaning to us following that year. Although there are times during the holidays where it’s still sometimes hard, there is something that will always be so endearing about Christmas where it will forever bring the comfort in remembering some of our fondest memories with him as we honor his life together as a family.
One of the greatest things about where we live in Bavaria is the fact that we are so central to many amazing cities and countries! It’s so easy for us to plan day trips and see many diverse places which result in various, unique experiences. After we planned our group trip to Amsterdam, we were determined to plan more overnight group trips throughout the year. Since Salzburg is only an hour away, we decided this would be our next adventure. Following their game one weekend, the 7 of us left for a night out in a new city. After getting a couple of drinks at what turned out to be a trashy euro bar, recommended by our hotel concierge, we decided to leave quickly and head to the ravishing Casino Salzburg! Since casinos aren’t as popular in Germany as they are back home, we were really excited to finally check this one out! I have never seen any casino like it! It’s a baroque palace called Schloss Klessheim that is now turned into a glamorous, boutique casino, filled with colorful LED lighting, highlighting the original architectural details throughout. The casino is divided in separate rooms that holds various slot rooms, poker rooms, a small open area for black jack and roulette and another small room that holds an intimate bar and lounge area. We had an amazing time especially since everyone went home as winners!
Since moving to Europe, I’ve had many people tell me how they envy our life. I’m sure it’s because they see us traveling so often but in reality, through social media, only the best days tend to be showcased. No one’s life is perfect and by all means this lifestyle definitely has its ups and downs. The harder experiences I’ve been dealt with such as losing someone or simply the challenges life may bring, has only opened my eyes to the true meaning of life. I’ve learned that the most important thing is living life it to its fullest, while embracing the most important relationships you have along the way. It’s so important never take a day for granted, no matter where you are in the world and fully enjoy everything beautiful this life has to offer. Whether it’s exploring the world or treasuring your greatest relationships. You never know what tomorrow may hold so by doing everything you can to share your love for the people you love most and try to check as many things off your bucket list as possible, will only allow you to appreciate what living life is all about.
The team was finally getting 3 days off which was a lot, considering Wade usually only has 1 day off a week! This gave us an opportunity to plan a trip where we could travel farther than we normally would be able to. Between our close group of friends, the nine of us all decided to plan a group trip to Amsterdam! This was a city that was never on my bucket list but a city I quickly fell in love with! We piled into two cars following their last practice and started our road trip, making an overnight stop in Cologne to break up our 8 hour drive to Amsterdam. We woke up early the next morning to try and get to Amsterdam as early as possible but of course needed to first check out a bit of Cologne before leaving! It was almost impossible to miss Germany’s most visited landmark as we were walking into the city and spotting the two massive spires (the largest church façade in the world) of the gothic Cologne Cathedral. Once we turned the final corner to view the church, the architecture literally made us stop in our footsteps to admire the detail on this enormous church standing before us. We had a quick look inside and the awe only continued as we admired the breathtaking, gothic architecture with splashes of color through the gorgeous stained glass windows throughout. Walking back to our car, we strolled through an alley filled with high end stores and quickly realized how interesting this city really was! A morning was definitely not enough time in Cologne and will need to plan on going back one day!
Herbstfest was the perfect introduction for both Wade & I, on what to expect for Oktoberfest! Our first real experience was for a team party in the main beer tent. Wade & I had checked out Herbstfest on our own a couple of days before, but it was only to walk around for a bit and check out the food vendors. This time, we were excited to not stand out from the crowd wearing our regular street clothes but instead, dress in our newly purchased, traditional Bavarian attire! Both the lederhosen and dirndls are extremely tight! For the men, the lederhosen are purchased to be pretty snug as the leather is meant to stretch out over time. It was extremely funny watching Wade walk around for the first time, trying to work in his tight leather shorts, literally wobbling side to side! We had a couple of table’s reserved for the team, however, we were extremely squished and the summer heat was still lingering. Wearing a tight dirndl didn’t help in any way, but at least I wasn't wearing those thick, tight, leather lederhosen!