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Saturday, September 19, 2020

Oktoberfest By The Numbers

Last weekend we "traveled" to Germany and Oktoberfest on our destination date night. These Covid staycations have been a lot of fun for us, because it breaks up the monotony of staying home and sitting on the couch, but also because it gives us a chance to learn new things about places we haven't visited yet, and will help us relive some of our best vacation memories. With all the bad of 2020, these are things we need right now.



If you were thinking about a future trip to Germany to get in on Oktoberfest and all the cool things it has to offer, I'll be talking about that in my next post, but for now, let's look at some amazing facts about this celebration:

This year would have marked the 210th celebration of Oktoberfest.

Have you ever been to Oktoberfest or even a local celebration? I have and the music and the food is always great, wherever it is. We'll definitely make the effort to try to get to more local festivities when we can go out in groups again.

I've been taking some great suggestions for future destinations, foods, and activities over on Facebook, but I'd love any of your recommendations in the comments. 

Where should we go next? What should we eat? Let us know! 👇👇👇

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Visiting Oktoberfest from Home

I've got another destination date night for you! It's September, which means it's official Oktoberfest time. Well, we all know all the actual celebrations are cancelled due to the pandemic, but that doesn't mean you have to miss out. We sure didn't. We had a wonderful date night over the weekend that featured a quaint German street, a Biergarten, and a rowdy crowd of Oktoberfest-goers. 


We did this all without leaving our house, literally, because the air outside is toxic. The whole west coast is on fire right now. We tried to have our date night on Friday, and were willing to brave the bad air, but then I was outside for 2 minutes and changed my mind. 


I set up Germany in the living room instead, then the restaurant I had my heart set on was closed due to smoke getting into their HVAC, so we picked up cheeseburgers on pretzel buns and bacon fries. 


On Saturday, we moved some furniture to create a little dining area, and I set up the table and my YouTube playlist while Eric picked up food I ordered earlier. Aside from creating my romantic table, using a card table, I set up a beer tasting flight for myself, because you can't have Oktoberfest without some drinks - regardless of what kind. 


I picked up 3 interesting bottles of beer from the store, making sure one was a German-style dark beer. The first beer is a stout from Seattle brewery Elysian. This was a pumpkin coffee ale called Punkaccino. The second was a Bavarian dark from Ayinger (also from Seattle) called Altbairisch Dunkel. I actually really loved this one and drank the whole bottle. The third beer was just for fun variety. A third Seattle beer. This one was called Lindemans Framboise and was a raspberry lambic beer in Belgian style. It smelled like raspberry jam, and was much more sweet tasting than that. It might be a great dessert beer, but it was not for me.



As with any German dining experience, we started with a great fondue with bread dippers. I realized I had these adorable little fondue forks, which worked perfectly, since we weren't reaching across the table to get to it. You could totally do fondue with a giant pretzel (or pretzel bites) or even bratwurst. If you have a fondue set, make your own!


As you know, I love food, so I like to try as many things as possible. I usually order two entrees so we can split them. I chose the chicken jaeger schnitzel, one of our favorites. It's pounded flat chicken, breaded, fried, and then served with a mushroom cream sauce. This one came with spaetzel. It's not my favorite, but Eric enjoys it. 

The second entree I chose was a special. It was boar bratwurst that came with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. I enjoy an interesting exotic meat and boar is one of those that I find particularly tasty. This one had fruits mixed into it, so it was slightly sweet, and came with a dark spicy mustard. We had this much on our plates and still had leftovers. 


After all that food, we took a few minutes to enjoy some people watching at Oktoberfest.
This was a perfect time to hang out in the "Biergarten" (beer garden). We saw an oompah band and tried to pick out which festival-goers we thought were Americans. Outside the festival building was a carnival that played mostly American music and served up huge helpings of delicious fair foods in between carnival rides that look like they might be a bad idea after drinking and eating a bunch. 


No vacation is complete without dessert out, so we also ended our meal with a traditional apple strudel. Usually, I avoid these like the plague because they claim to have raisins and I always think they're going to be whole raisins. I was wrong though, because this was delicious. A perfect end to a great evening.

Germany and Oktoberfest was pretty easy to plan and put together. The food is readily available in most places and has something that can appeal to everyone if you are doing this with your family.

Here are a few things you can use to make an amazing trip wherever you want to set up your destination:
What do I like most about these "trips"? Aside from being on them, planning them is fun and the unpacking is much easier and not at all stressful. Depending on how elaborate you want to go with your destination staycation, it can be a quick set up, too. This was, by far, our most expensive date night. I spent around $110, but we've been saving so much by not going out to eat, and getting takeout only two days a week, so it gives us a way to mix things up. 

Don't forget to "stamp" your passport

Get your family in on destination nights. Give everyone a part of the trip to plan: food, destination, activities, etc. This is a great time to learn more about different cultures and plan a future trip. Just know that our next trips may not be happening until we get a vaccine, so we're looking at late next year, because we also have to wait for Covid cases to drop drastically and for other countries to reopen their borders to us. 

If you want to follow along or see more pics/vids of my "trips", follow me on Instagram.

Are you trying to jazz up your quarantine time? What are you doing to keep sane?



Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I may be compensated should you choose to make any purchases through them. This allows me to keep this blog running for you. 


Saturday, September 12, 2020

10 Must-Have Travel Items

Since travel is off the table right now, it's the perfect time to stock your travel bag for when you get out there again. I travel mostly the same way every time I go anywhere, no matter where I go. I have perfected my packing list and having a packing plan that works for me makes life so much easier. Part of my plan is taking the same things every trip, because it's familiar and it works. Here are the things I'm always packing, wherever I go.

Ziploc bags

You  never know when you'll need to separate something from something else, but also when you want to take a bag of cookies with you or keep your wet bathing suit from getting your rental car seats soggy or have an emergency diaper situation. I bring a handful of zipper bags with me anywhere I go. I've used them for snacks, for dirty clothes, for leftovers and for receipts and brochures. They are multipurpose and take up almost no room in your bag.

Back-up bag

Usually when you go on a trip, you buy stuff. That means you may not have room to pack it on your way home. Well, I try not to overpack my carry-on, but it's still just a carry-on. Because of that, I bring along a back-up bag to use for all my overage. I have this one and this one and they are both awesome. Just depends on how much you are willing to spend, but also how much you're restricting yourself on souvenirs when you travel. Sometimes I know I will be buying gifts, so I bring a bigger bag than normal.


Mesh pop-up hamper (laundry detergent)

Whether or not I'm on a long trip, I don't like living out of my suitcase and I don't like mixing my clean and dirty clothes. I have a great pop-up hamper that also works as a laundry bag that I put in the corner of my room to throw all my dirties. Then, before I go home, I can schlep it to the laundry room (or just drag it to the washing machine). I always have a small bag of dry detergent and a stash of quarters, so I'm ready for whatever the situation calls for. I have this one, which has really sturdy handles and four pockets, so you can even take along a book or game to pass the time. It's served me well for at least a decade so far.

Reusable grocery bag

I am a grocery shopper. I don't go out for every meal if I can help it. I generally show up at my destination and take a trip to the store on the first day to shop for breakfast foods, because that's the easiest meal to make and the least exciting to me to eat out. If you want to skip the back-up bag above, you can definitely use your grocery bag to bring back items from you trip. You can also use it as a laundry bag if you don't have that much. I've used it for both of these things before, since they usually have sturdy handles and nice flat bottoms.

Packable rain jacket

One time I didn't pack my rain jacket and it was a mistake. I've since learned that I should never leave it at home, even if I'm going to Vegas or Orlando. In fact, when it rains in places where it rarely rains, it often pours harder than you're used to, which sucks hard. I know lots of people like to bring umbrellas, but I don't, because a rain jacket is multipurpose. It doesn't take up as much room as an umbrella, but you can pack it down into your day bag and also use it if you happen to get chilly. You never know when a cold snap will present itself, even when it comes in the form of really insistent air conditioning. This is also why I always bring a scarf or wrap with me on the plane.

Sunglasses

The sun can really wreak havoc on your eyes. Even when it's not super sunny, you need protection from its rays. While you probably don't forget the sunscreen, but make sure you don't leave your sunglasses at home, because you don't want to have to pay 3 times as much as usual by purchasing them at your destination, or looking squinty in all your pics.

Snacks

Do you get hangry? I know I do! I always have snacks in my bag, because sometimes things don't go as planned and you aren't always in a place where you can get into a restaurant to sate your hunger. Toss a couple of granola bars or a piece of fruit or a bag of trail mix into your bag, just in case. You'll be happy if you have need it and sad if you do and didn't pack it. I also suggest a reusable water bottle, which I also count as a snack. We use this one.

Compression socks

Walking is hard on your feet, not to mention your ankles and legs. Most of us walk a lot more on vacation than we do at home, which can make our ankles swell and really hurt us at the end of each day. I pack a really good pair of compression socks in my bag that I can either wear under pants during the day or put on the second I get back to the room. I've been known to sleep in them when I've had sad, swollen ankles, and they help immensely. I swear by these Zensah socks.

Tablet

I don't always bring my laptop, and when I do, I only use it in my room. I always bring along my iPad Mini though, because I can read on it, take notes, listen to music and podcasts, play games and even check and answer emails. It's perfect for finding directions for your sightseeing before you leave the hotel and great for watching Netflix when there's nothing good on TV and you need to just unwind.

Back-up battery

Nothing sucks worse than when your phone battery dies as you're trying to call the hotel or get an Uber or take a picture of something awesome. You need a back-up battery. I have this one that will recharge my phone 2 1/2 times before it needs to be recharged. We actually have two, and we each carry one. This way Eric can play games on his phone all day and I can take all the pics I want and text with my mom. Because I can use any cord with this one, I can also use it to charge my camera or share with someone else to charge both our devices at once.

There you have it. The 10 things I don't leave on vacation without. I keep a lot of these things in my carry-on all the time, so my bag is halfway packed with all the things I know I'll always need. 

What do you never leave home without on your trips?

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links.
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