Germany

Throughout the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016 I spent a lot of time in Germany. Deutschland has always been one of my favorite places in Europe and I loved getting the opportunity to explore some new cities.

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My car for the month. I didn’t hate driving this on the autobahn…I got up to 190km.

Where I worked:

Wiesbaden

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Marktkirche – the main protestant church in Wiesbaden
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Spielbank Wiesbaden – Casino

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The Heidenmauer (“Heathen Wall”) of Aquae Mattiacorum
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Hessisches Staatstheater

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Carnival parade downtown Wiesbaden

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Daily snacks at the office…

While I was in Germany I worked in a town called Wiesbaden which is in central western Germany, about 20 minutes outside Frankfurt. It is a lovely town with lots of restaurants and great shopping (I tend to go shopping a lot when I’m alone and wandering around.. I can’t be trusted).

I happened to be in Germany during Carnival which is a huge Catholic festival that occurs right before lent. The festivities normally take place at the end of February or beginning of March and includes big celebrations and parades. The only way I can describe it is a mixture between Mardi Gras and Halloween.

Places to Eat and Drink:

  • Restorante Comback: Italian restaurant downtown Wiesbaden with amazing truffle pasta!
  • Spital: I went here for some drinks with a friend and some of his German friends. It was busy and seemed to be a happening place at night.
  • Manoamano: Delicious cocktails and cool vibe!
  • Frankfurter Hof Sprenger – Great Schnitzel and Apfelwein (add some sparkling water or sprite to dilute the tart taste)

Biebrich Palace:

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Not too far from downtown Wiesbaden is Biebrich Palace. During one of my days off I explored the area around the palace which is located on the Rhine River. It was a beautiful place to walk around and I would recommend going if you find yourself in the area.

Mainz

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Mainz is a college town located on the Rhine river about 25 minutes from Wiesbaden. I stayed in Mainz for a week to get a change of scenery and because I made my reservations last minute I had to stay at two different hotels during this week. The first place I stayed was the Hilton Mainz, which is located on the bank of the Rhine River. The second hotel I stayed at was the Hilton Mainz City. Both hotels were very nice. The Hilton Mainz city is a little older of a hotel, but it is also smaller so you get more of a personal experience where the hotel staff knows who you are.

Mannheim

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One of my weekends in Germany I drove to Mannheim to meet up with a friend. Unfortunately it rained practically the entire time I was there so our day consisted of more eating and drinking opposed to sightseeing. Trying to find the best that Mannheim had to offer we went to lunch at the revolving restaurant in the space needle. Honestly, I don’t recommend doing this. Thankfully I had good company but the food was not great and Mannheim is an industrial city so the views weren’t that great either. The one interesting thing we found while we were there was Luisenpark park which had an area that looked just like Asia (who would have thought in the middle of Germany).

Ruedesheim am Rhein

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Rüdesheim lies at the foot of the Rhine’s right (east) bank. The town belongs to the Frankfurt Rhine Main Region and is one of Germany’s biggest tourist attractions (aside from the Cologne Cathedral)

I was only in Ruedesheim for an afternoon so my time mostly consisted of drinking wine and walking around exploring the area. Some of my co-workers went during peak wine season and took a trolley ride through the vineyards which looked amazing!

The town is known for its white wine, specifically Riesling. I am not normally a Riesling fan (too sweet for me) but the ones I tried here were great. They were a little on the drier side so it tasted more like a chardonnay.

Overall, I really enjoyed my few months in Germany and can’t wait to return someday!

Xoxo,

Kirsten

 

Amsterdam

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Happy Saturday everyone! Today I am talking about a magic place called Amsterdam. I have been to Amsterdam twice now, once in 2011 (for school) and once in 2014 (for work) and I hope to return again at some point in my life. It is the perfect city to stroll around and depending on where you stay you can walk most places (or bike if you are brave). Each area in the city has its own unique charm and no matter what you are interested in, there is something in Amsterdam for you. If you take a trip here make sure to pick up some stroopwaffles (caramel filled cookies…which become even more delicious when warmed over a hot cup of coffee) and cheese to bring home, you won’t regret it.

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Dam Square

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Things to do:

I AMSTERDAM letters:

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Ajax Soccer Game:

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Ajax vs. Paris Saint Germain

Ajax is the professional soccer team in Amsterdam. The stadium is easy to get to by train and the tickets weren’t crazy expensive so if there is a game while you are there it’s worth going.

Canal Cruise:

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NEMO museum of Science
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Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge)

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I highly recommend going on a canal cruise. I did the basic city cruise both times I went and really enjoyed it. I would have done the pizza cruise if I had time (who wouldn’t want to eat pizza on a boat cruising through the canals of Amsterdam?) If you get a chance, let me know how it is!

Anne Frank Museum:

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The Anne Frank house was a humbling experience. Standing in the actual room where Anne and her family hid for all of those years during WWII is a feeling I can’t describe. Highly recommend going if you are in Amsterdam.

Heineken Brewery Tour:

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The Heineken Brewery tour is fun and interactive. During the tour you learn how the beer is made, the ingredients in beer, how to drink the beer (apparently there is a wrong way), and how to pour a perfect pint.

Red Light District:

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It’s an experience to walk around here.. that’s all I can say

Rijksmuseum:

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The Night Watch by Rembrandt
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Cuypers Library

Van Gogh Museum:

You are not allowed to take pictures at the Van Gogh Museum but you can see paintings such as “The Bedroom”, “Sunflowers” and “The Potato Eaters”. If you like art, they have a great collection.

Where to Stay:

Cheap:

  • Flying Pig Hostel – I didn’t stay here but I had a lot of friends who did and loved it. The hostel I stayed at was disgusting (I can’t even remember the name), so ask for recommendations before booking a hostel here.

Nice:

Places to Eat & Drink:

Humphrey’s

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Awesome restaurant!

Julias Pasta

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Julias is located inside the central train station. Delicious pasta and take away wine when you’re wanting a quick lunch or dinner.

Wynand Fockink:

Liquor distillery located down a side street off dam square. This was recommended to me by a co-worker. Beware they are only open until 9pm. I tried to go for a drink after dinner one night and it was closed.

Crepe Bar:

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YUMM! Strawberry, Banana, Nutella heaven.

Last tip: A lot of the credit card machines in Amsterdam require you to enter a pin number. Before you travel I would call your bank to see if your credit card is compatible with the European pin numbers. If it’s not (my Visa wasn’t), I would take out cash (euros) when  you arrive unless your debit card doesn’t incur international fees. 

Xoxo,

Kirsten

 

 

Girls Weekend in Charleston, SC

It’s officially only two weeks until I am reunited with my best friends to celebrate the wedding of my beautiful friend Chrissy!  As I have been preparing for the wedding festivities I’ve been reminiscing on the girls trip we took to Charleston, SC last year and I wanted to share some of my favorite pictures from the trip.

Charleston is the perfect destination for a girls weekend. It’s close to beautiful beaches, is where the plantation house is where the Notebook was filmed… (insert heart eyed emoji) and most importantly has a lot of delicious food!

Where are your favorite girls weekend destinations?

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Drinks at Smoke BBQ
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Dinner at Prohibition on King Street

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Driveway to Boone Hall Plantation

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Boone Hall Plantation where part of the movie the Notebook was filmed

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Amazing egg sandwhich from the local farmers market

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Folly Beach – about 20 minutes from Charleston

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Dinner at Pearlz…YUM!!!

Xoxo,

Kirsten

 

 

Oktoberfest

Happy Monday everyone! Seeing as it is now September (where did this year go?), I thought it would be fitting to do a recap on Oktoberfest which is starting in a few weeks. When I found out I was going to be in Germany at the end of last year I knew I had to take a trip down to Munich for Oktoberfest. I had been to the festival once before when I was studying abroad and had an amazing time. What’s not to love about people from all over the world gathered to drinks steins, ride carnival rides and have a good time.

Attire:

If you go to Oktoberfest you should definitely buy a traditional German dirndl. The first time I went I didn’t buy one and felt extremely left out (literally everyone is wearing them!).

I recommend buying your outfit once you get to Germany because you will have a lot of options and trying on different dirndl’s is part of the fun! Almost all department stores in Germany start selling these outfits around the end of August. Trust me, you will have no issue fiding one you love. If you won’t get to Germany with enough time to go shopping you can also order one online.

Beware that a nice dirndl will cost you a pretty penny. Most of the ones I tried on were around 200 euro for the dirndl and the shirt to go under it (I bought mine at Kaufhof department store).

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Where to Stay

I stayed at the Hilton Munich Park hotel. It was a gorgeous hotel and the rooms were nice and spacious. The hotel is located next to the English Gardens and is close to public transit which made it easy to get to and from Oktoberfest. It’s a great place to stay if you don’t want to be in the middle of the action when you’re trying to get some sleep.

The Main Event

Before heading to the festival, make sure you have plenty of cash.  You won’t want to deal with using credit cards and if I remember right most  beer tents require cash.

When you get to Oktoberfest I recommend going to a tent early and staying there for the day. Once it starts to get busy you will end up waiting in lines for at least a few hours. Something interesting is that they do not let people into the tents based on where they are in line. The waitresses choose who they want to be let in for their tables (probably based on who looks like they will spend the most money).

Both times I went I ended up at the Hofbräuhaus tent and had a great time! I have also heard great things about the Augustiner tent (let me know how it is if you go).

Besides the beer tents there are also a ton of fun carnival rides and food tents. No matter what you do you will definitely have a good time! I hope to return again some day for round three!

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Xoxo,

Kirsten

5 Steps to Planning a Killer Bachelorette Party

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I am at the point in my life where a lot of my friends are starting to get married. When one of my friends asked me to be her Maid of Honor last year I was SO excited! She was the first of my close friends to get engaged and to my single eyes engagement meant an epic bachelorette party was in the future!

But how do you even begin planning? Since I went through this process blindly (and with a little help from Google and Pinterest), I thought I would share some tips on how to plan an amazing weekend for the bride to be!

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Step 1: Decide on a Date

Depending on the location of the wedding will determine how far in advance you want to have the bachelorette party. For the party that I planned, I decided to have it two months before so everyone’s budgets could recover before the wedding which is in Hilton Head South Carolina.

I recommend sending out a doodle survey (online scheduling tool) to figure out which dates work best for each girl.

Step 2: Determine what is most important to the bride

Before you begin ANY of the planning you need to think about what is most important to the bride for the weekend. For some brides it is important to have a destination weekend (where maybe a few people won’t be able to attend), for other brides it doesn’t matter where the bachelorette party is as long as all of her besties are together. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it was one of the biggest issues I dealt with while planning.

Step 3: Pick your location

Once you figure out what is most important to your bride you need to decide on a location for the party. If you are staying in the hometown of the bride try to think outside the box when you are planning the activities. For the bachelorette party I threw we stayed in Chicago (where most of us are from), so I tried to choose activities the bride had never done before. Make sure it doesn’t feel like just any ordinary weekend.

If you are going out of town I recommend checking with friends, colleagues or family that may have been to your destination. Before we decided to stay in Chicago we were planning on having the weekend in Nashville. I have a few friends who went to school in Nashville and were able to give me a list of restaurants and fun things to do. Googling ideas will also work, but it’s always good to get recommendations from people you trust and know what you like.

Step 4: Activities, Games and Party Accessories

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Searching for party accessories was my favorite part of the party planning process. I found a majority of my things on Etsy. There is so much great stuff on that site! Each bride will have their own style but below are some things that helped make my weekend a success:

  • Groom on a stick:
    • I went to FedEx and printed big pictures of the grooms face and then taped them to rulers that I  bought at Target. These were a huge hit and looked hilarious in photos.
  • Party Props:
    • One of my friends is super artsy and made some amazing photo booth props, however there are plenty of places to buy these if you don’t want to DIY.
  • Custom T-Shirts:
    • These “Drunk in Love” and “Just Drunk” shirts were great quality! The glitter did not come off in the washer like I expected it to
  • Custom Tumblers: (or you could do koozies)
  • Party Pins: (or sash if your bride prefers)
  • Temporary Tattoos:
  • Balloons:
    • We wrote on regular balloons with sharpies to save money but you can also buy funny balloons on multiple sites. I also love the big gold letter balloons (don’t forget it will cost extra money to fill them with helium and make them float)
  • Dance Class
    • Most cities have some kind of flirty work out studio. Our group did a video vixen dance class at Flirty Girl Fitness and had a ball!
  • Blow Outs:
    • We got our hair done at DryBar. There are a ton of places to get this done, and it’s so worth it to have fabulous hair all night! Also most of the places are BYOB so you can have a little champagne while you get pampered.
  • Party Games
    • Ladies night – card game where each card has a statement on it (ex. most likely to be a hand model). As a group you choose who best fits the statement on the card. We turned it into a drinking game where if you received a card you had to drink. You can also play alcohol free.
    • Guess what the Groom said – a few weeks before the bachelorette party I asked the groom 20 questions. At the party I asked the bride what she thought the groom answered. Once again this can be played as a drinking game or not.
    • Drop your Panties – each girl brings one pair of underwear.  You drop the underwear into a box and have the bride try to pick who brought each pair.

Step 5: Send out logistics / price information

As the maid of honor (or anyone planning the bachelorette) you need to make sure that the entire group is aware of what the activities are and the prices for each activity. To stay organized I created a google doc which I shared with all the attendees (minus the bride). In the google doc I  put each activity, the cost for the activity and then a total amount that each girl would owe for the weekend.

I recommend booking everything and sending out this information as soon as you can. This way everyone can budget accordingly and not have to worry about any surprise expenses at the end of the weekend.

I did not send out the spreadsheet to the bride because as a group we decided we would pick up the cost of her activities. I think this is a nice gift that helps makes the weekend worry free for the bride. We also did not tell her about any of the activities we were doing until right before. As one activity ended during the day we would tell her the next. This route might stress some brides out, but it was a fun way for my group to keep the excitement since we were partying in our hometown.

last but not least….ENJOY THE WEEKEND and don’t stress!!

If all of your girls are together there is no way it won’t be an amazing time!

Xoxo,

Kirsten