First, let me say this is the most independent thing I have ever done in my life! I was honestly terrified. I'm 24 and some places are just not very safe for a female to travel alone. Honestly, if I'd had the choice, I definitely would've felt safer traveling in Paris with someone! Nevertheless, I survived so it is okay!
I arrive in Germany on Steffi's 26th birthday...It's the first time in 10 years that we've ever celebrated a birthday together, so it was kind of special for me. After dinner, her friend Lukas came over and it was my first test of how good my German was. I took German class for 3 years in college, and I actually understood a lot of what they said when they weren't speaking English, it was just really hard for me to communicate my wants/needs/feelings back.
The next morning, when I woke up I found that Steffi had went out to buy my favorite german bread-Streusel Kuchen. This is a special sweet bread specific to the Northwest part of Germany Steffi lives in. So, of course, I could not eat it. I had to explain in more detail about the surgery to Steffi, because I felt like someone was going to force feed me if I didn't. I'm not sure she ever really understood, she said she had never heard of any type of surgery for losing weight. This didn't really surprise me, but at the same time, I never would've thought it would be such a strange concept.
After breakfast, we went to the Lindt factory, where I spent about $50 on chocolate! Most of it was for gifts, but trust me- I've eaten my fair share! Here's a photo of me and Steffi from the Lindt factory (yes, that IS a giant chocolate horse....):
The day before the wedding was very busy. We went everywhere to finalize wedding things and spent some time at her mom's house getting the flowers together. That evening there was a little party at her mom's house with about 30 people. There was so much German speaking that it became overwhelming! Luckily I made some friends who spoke English. Once it started to get dark, everyone went outside and began breaking porcelain and ceramic dishes in the middle of the street, then the bride and groom had to clean it up as a couple. This was a fun wedding tradition for the guests, but not so much for the couple. The groom said when I get married, he will bring extra luggage full of ceramics for him to break for me to clean up...guess I was enjoying breaking the dishes a bit too much since this was new for me.
The wedding was a 2pm on Friday. I walked to the Aachen Rathaus (courthouse) and as soon as I saw Steffi for the first time, I began to cry a little. I always cry at weddings, but this is the first time just seeing the bride made me cry. She looked so beautiful and she is one of my longest friendships. Even after 10 years and thousands of miles apart, we have never stopped communicating.
After the wedding, the party began at a cute little venue that used to be a farm. It was a very elegant location. First were drinks and cake in the "Cafe Stunde" (coffee hour instead of cocktail hour) and then we moved into the hall for dinner/games/dancing. Dinner was SO good... an assortment of salads, chicken, slamon, pork, pasta...too much, I definitely didn't get the opportunity to try everything!
After dinner, Christian's father had some speeches and games planned. Unfortunately my body/band chose an unfortunate time to decide it was having a problem with food. The bathroom was outside the building and I was at the bride/groom's table so there was nothing I could do. I really could not get up and leave. Finally after 30 mins or so of trying to choke back my PB-ing, I just had to get up and go to the restroom. Very unfortunate timing! But I don't think anyone really noticed as much as I felt they would!
The party that night lasted until almost 6am. I had much too much to drink and when I left I couldn't stop crying. I knew it was the last time I would see Steffi for quite some time. The alcohol probably had me feeling a little more emotional than I normally would anyway. I got back to my hotel in time to have 4 hours of sleep before I had to leave for the train to Paris. I learned a new lesson- high speed train + terrible hangover = AWFUL motion sickness.
When I arrived in Paris I was way too hung over to enjoy much. I saw the Eiffel Tower but that is pretty much it for that first night. The next day was more of an adventure, and I've already written about a lot of it. I still cannot believe I climbed the Eiffel tower. It is up there with one of the biggest accomplishments of my life.
This was the first of many occasions in Paris that I got hit on. Made me feel like I need to move to Paris! There was a group of guys who wanted to take photos with me. Here's a photo of the one who grabbed my ass after the photo was taken:
I spent some of my time bored taking strange photos:
Paris at night is a scary place though. I was happy to be leaving the next day after feeling that I might need my pepper spray on more than one occasion after dark at the Eiffel tower.
I arrived in London early on Monday and checked into my hotel to leave my belongings. Then I bought a daypass for the tube and took it to Tower Bridge. It was a bit of a walk as I got lost a couple of times. Once I arrived, I was ready to warm up with some coffee. Coffee (EVERYTHING, actually) is really expensive in London. My medium skinny white mocha was the equivalent of $7. DAMN! Anyway, while drinking my coffee, I met a nice Brittish man who gave me a lot of advice and directions about how to go from place to place. He told me the London Eye was only a 10 minute walk, or 2 clicks (kilometers) from the Bridge. So I decided I wouldn't mind the walk, regardless of the miserable cold.
Anyway, it was a fantastic trip, but I really needed the day off work yesterday to recover. So thankful I planned accordingly! It was definitely not a vacation for resting!