Planning for Big Events

Germany, italy, Travel

It’s common that we want a global and team participation in the big things in life. Even if we aren’t huge sport fans there is a longing to see the Olympics or world cup. Even secular peoples flock to Oberammergau, Germany every ten years just to experience the unique Passion Play. Those that are not huge beer fans go to Oktoberfest. The point is, that we long to be a part of big events as people. We want to experience what “everyone is talking about” and the “FOMO”* is a real deep seeded desire. *Fear of Missing Out

If you do decide to go to the next “big thing” make sure you do your work to make it happen. The truth is if you don’t buy your Oberammergau tickets in 2019, there won’t be any. If you don’t book hotels in X city for the Olympics, you’ll be sleeping on someone’s couch for $300 a night.

Here are my tips to making sure you have a good time.

  1. Really think about if it’s an experience you want.
    • When you are thinking you want to attend an event, really check with yourself on if it’s something you want to experience. Are you REALLY that into Football? When you’re seventy, will you still talk about this event? There are a lot of things I actively avoid because it’s not that important to me, and the chaos or cost of going is not worth it.
  2. Do your research.
    • Start with the internet and get a good idea of dates, places, cost, and what may be required of you to attend the thing you’re interested in. Cross compare data from the last time an event was happening and mentally prepare yourself for the good, bad, and ugly.
  3. Ask for help.
    • Go to online forums and ask for information and tips from people that went to the last big event. Maybe someone from last year’s Burning Man can explain just how many wet wipes you should take. Community aid can be very helpful, if not genius. However, tread with caution as opinions can murky the water.
  4. Consult experts.
    • Travel agents know an insane amount of information on different parts of the world, events, locations, and how to make your journey safe and comfortable. If you are attending a well-known event like the Olympics or World Cup they are likely already in the loop on how you can book train tickets, or hotels. If they don’t know, they have endless resources to assist in the research and understanding of the events to help you have a better time. They’re experts for a reason, and none of them would survive the digital age without being some of the best thought leaders in the industry.
  5. Be realistic about expenses.
    • If you are going to a big event, you WILL pay a premium for everything you do. During events the cost of food, lodging, transportation, and basic needs is likely to increase. If you took an economy lesson in school, this is that whole supply and demand thing.
  6. Budget high, plan on more.
    • If anything is true about travel, it’s that you will spend more than you wanted to or planned to. It’s inevitable when you fall in love with a hotel, or a dinner spot, or that purse you just HAD to have. However, so you don’t go home with no money for rent, make sure you save more than you expect to spend.
  7. Check your mental fortitude.
    • Really check with yourself if this event is worthwhile. While it may increase your Insta-Views, or you might have something new to share with your friends, make sure it’s what YOU want. So many times we latch onto trendy locations as a must visit because EVERYONE else is going there. However, that doesn’t mean it will really serve you or what you want to experience. Really think about if you can deal with the crowds, standing in lines for hours on end, and general chaos of traveling to this supposedly great event.
  8. Take a friend.
    • The buddy system is particularly helpful for crazy events. Having a friend can help keep you sane, safe, happy, and get you home in one piece. A friend means someone to make memories with, even if it’s a memory of sitting in a muddy field at a festival. This is one of those situations where a bestie might just be a necessity.
  9. Plan over a year in advance.
    • Most of these large events are scheduled REALLY far in advance. If specific dates are not shared, most of the time a rough time frame is. This is an important time to monitor flight pricing, tickets, and other arrangements you may need to go. This means a chance to see the total cost, save accordingly, and make sure everything else can get into place.
  10. Have realistic expectations.
    • Most importantly, you want to have a good time if you are shelling out thousands of dollar. However, anything and everything can go wrong. Don’t expect everything to go perfect on the day of or days of. Like a wedding day, there is ALWAYS something that will go wrong. In most instances, be grateful that no one was hurt, and nothing was stolen.

Happy Travels!

Real Life Fairy Land

europe, Germany, History, Travel

Think FAIRYTALE and most people immediately think of Disney. Disney capitalized on the tales of fairies with their movies and theme parks, television shows and other media connections. Their stories have all the pixie dust and wands and touch of spirit that make children dream and adults long for something better.

Yet, what sometimes gets forgotten is the REAL reasons, stories, and places that brought breath into what we know as fairytales. Some of the legends date back millenia in some form or another, while others are were brewed by our 19th centuries great-great grandparents. Regardless, the roots of out legends come not from the animated world, but from deeper folk legends that were published and share decades before Snow White was even a sketch in Disney studios.

Many people know the Brothers Grimm and that they had the darker, scarier versions of our beloved tales like Cinderella and Hansel and Gretel. Which is true, but the layers to their creations are much more than coming up with ideas. These stories came from folk legends that were originally compiled, and were deeply inspired by the areas that the Grimm Brothers lived. It is much of the methodology that was used by others like George Washington Irving in an early United States and countless others in Europe and further afield.

No doubt in travels and in reading and listening to tales that little towns like Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Red Fortress above the Tauber River) were inspiration for that epoch of literature and the centuries of stories after.

Rothenburg was founded in the 13th century and to this day the foundations and much of that original medieval town stand today. Walk around the city and you will see a wide variety of placards that mark the dates of buildings that were constructed. Somehow a vast majority survived centuries of wear and tear and a world war that almost leveled them.

Rebirthed after WWII the city transformed from a nazi village to one that is a beautiful stop on the Romantic Road. The city is transformed seasonally with garlands, and full of old world charm that is unmatched in most the world.

Good or bad, the history and stories in Rothenburg are quintessentially German. The architecture is timbered and warm, the clocks and stories are quaint. Each corner reflects the past and a preservation for the future. The best part is seeing the diverse population that now walk the streets. Turkish immigrants next to Japanese tourists, and everyone in between.

Those that are looking for treats need not travel far, baked goods are sold on every corner and carts selling hot apple cider fill the main square. Stop into a cafe for some gluhwein (warmed spiced wine), something potatoes, and schnitzel for you carnivores. You won’t be disappointed.

Small shops ad to the charm, a toy store sells German-made stuffed toys, while the Christmas shop is sure to make the biggest scrooge smile. Other novelties and artisan goods exist in jewelers, grocers, and other small family businesses.

For those seeking education the town is not sparse on church or museum. For families, the Christmas museum (along with the shop) are safe bets. For those interested in the darker corners of history, like myself, the Torture Museum is a great choice.

While the torture museum seems macabre, it does have more than metal death probes. Perhaps most interesting is some of the pages from a 15th century song book, or the large collection of royal seals. Medieval history was not all iron maidens and spiked chairs, mind you*.

All around I can’t suggest a stop in Rothenburg enough for you history, photography, and travel geeks. It’s unlike anywhere I have ever been before or since, and it’s worth every moment to explore some cobbled alleys and eat delicious regional dishes. Go in the off season, and early in the day to avoid crowds. Make it a pit stop as you explore southern Germany, and most importantly, Happy Travels!

*Iron Maidens have been pretty much discredited as a hoax from the 18th century, from people wanting to pass them off as historical, when they were really a novelty item meant to perpetuate how awful the middle ages were. Because plague wasn’t bad enough?

Hohenzollern Castle

europe, Germany, History, Travel

The first castle I ever visited was not one I ever expected to see. It was never on a list, but it was a pure treasure!

Circa 2010 when my trip was interrupted by a volcano, I found myself with an extra week in Germany.

My amazing host friends, military based near Stuttgart, decided it was a great time to help me explore more of Germany.

The first choice was to get me into a castle and southern Germany has some of the best examples of castle architecture in the world! The magnificent Hohenzollern is no exception. While many people head to Neuschwanstein Castle near Munich, few recognize the choices and variety of castles that exist in and outside of Bavaria.

Hohenzollern is just south of Stuttgart in Bisingen, and it’s a fabulous example of what Prussian architecture created. Parts of the castle date back to 1267 with some structures in place as far back as 1061. Often referred to as the  “Crown of all Castles in Swabia” all was lost in 1454. While other owners built up the fortress at times, the castle was never fully restored and was practically abandoned by the 19th century.

It was then that Crown Prince Frederick William of Prussia decided to rebuild the castle. Started in 1850 the castle was built to reflect the heritage and culture of the region and the Prussian monarch. For reference, Neuschwanstein Castle was built around the same time by the Bavarian monarchy.

Hohenzollern shocked me on numerous levels, the first was the way it reflected the fantastical ideals we encompass about castles in Europe. Hohenzollern has majestic spires, endless walls, and magical paintings and frescoes.

The vast and rich green forests that also surround the area are amazing. As the landscape moves into being the dark forest you see where imagination could run wild. It was these forests and these castles and beautiful buildings that so deeply rooted Germans and Victorians and Americans to a love of fairytales and medieval revival. These forests birthed Grimm’s fairytales and much more to a Euro-American psyche.

If you are looking for an escape from the tourist trail, stunning views, and some prime architecture of the medieval reimagining of the 19th century, this place is for you!

VISITOR DETAILS:

HOURS: Monday to Sunday: 10:00am to 5:30 pm (4:30pm November to March) (closed most holidays)

WEBSITE: https://www.burg-hohenzollern.com

ADMISSION: $10-15 USD

ENGLISH TOURS:

 16 March – 31 October  Saturday* + Sunday*   11:30 + 14:00 + 16:30 
 16 March – 31 October  Monday* – Friday*  14:00 
 01 November -15 March    Saturday* + Sunday*  11:30 + 14:00