One of my good friends frequently posts travel quotes to his Facebook about working hard and achieving dreams. “In the end, we are our choices. Build yourself a great story.” — a quote from Jeff Bezos. Things like this. They are inspiring, he is inspiring, and I would like to think that to some people we are, too. But, mostly, people do not see the hard work that goes into keeping the dream of travel and exploration actually possible; they do not see the choices, and they are choices, not sacrifices.
What people see are the pictures of palm trees on a Monday and mountains and champagne on a Wednesday at noon. What people do not see are the 14+ hour days we work between adventures. For the two to three weeks between London in mid-November and the beginning of December we truly barely left the house, or at least I did not. (The Frenchman still had to go in, of course.) I sat, plopped on the couch, wearing a buttprint that still has not gone away into the cushions and working until after sunrise. Keeping us going was knowing that from December 9 through January 6 aside from a few hours of work some days, I would largely close up the laptop as we headed off on our five-day Bavarian wonderland roadtrip, to the States and Paris for Christmas, and to the Dolomites for a ski holiday.
While I grumbled about not seeing sunshine or breathing fresh air for days on end during that hectic period, I do not at all regret the work flurries as they allow us to take off on quite large adventures at least once, if not twice, a month. Here’s the first of those winter-time, laptop-free adventures, part 1 of our (slightly out of order) Bavarian roadtrip: The village of Bamberg in Franconian Germany.
Mostly, I chose to include Bamberg on our itinerary because it has the world’s highest concentration of breweries – more than 200 in about 3,000 square miles. I figured it was a good way to incorporate some of the Frenchman’s interests (drinking beer) into the trip while I frolicked around castles, petting horses and pretending to be a wintertime princess. Though all of the guides said two or three hours in Bamberg would be sufficient, we could have easily spent an entire day in the old town with its cathedrals, palaces, brewhouses and painted buildings.
The most famous of the local beers is Rauchbier, a smokey beer. If you are familiar with Lapsang Souchong, a smoked tea that I was introduced to by the Frenchman’s grandmother and which I have become particularly fond of, it is the same taste, but in beer instead of black tea. Turns out, the Frenchman does not particularly like Lapsang Souchong or smokey beer, but he does like the beer equivalent of Gulhwein, so we stuck to that instead as we wandered the village’s pretty streets, made a bit grey that day by the gloomy weather.