2018 Trip: Next Stop – Bavaria

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Total time: 1 travel day plus four nights. Total steps walked: 40,279. Total miles walked: 16.5.

Bavaria is the largest state in Germany and Munich is its capital. We decided to go to Germany in the first place partly because of our interest in WWII history. While we’ve visited many US and UK places of interest, it dawned on us one day that we’d never been to the “dark side.” My husband and I are of an age to remember a Germany divided after the war into East and West as well as when the Berlin wall fell. We grew up on cold war spy thrillers, of which both Germany as a whole and Berlin specifically played major roles.

So that’s part of how we chose Germany. Why/how we decided to go to Bavaria/Munich is still a bit of a mystery to me. I’m sure it had to do with some travel show we were watching and since we were going to go to Germany anyway, it made sense we should stop in. It was an easy flight from London and from there we were going to catch trains to Berlin and then Amsterdam.

So after spending months trying to learn a bit of German on Duolingo off we went. The original plan was to fly to Munich from London and use it as a home base for various day trips into the Bavarian countryside. One of the planned day trips was Nuremberg. Once we figured out that our train to Berlin was going through Nuremberg, we made Nuremberg its own stop. We did make a day trip to Ulm which has a gorgeous church. So this part of the trip was a “get there day” in Munich, two full days of exploration there, a day trip to Ulm, and then on to Nuremberg for an afternoon/night.

Munich

Unlike London, which is like old home week for us, going to Munich caused me a bit of stress. We’d never been there, we don’t speak the language (although I found out I’m pretty good at reading menus, signs, and train information). But that’s never stopped us (or slowed us down much) before so no reason to slow down at this point. Actually I’d try to say something in German and they’d just smile and say something back  in English.

When we arrived, even though we were sitting close to the front of the plane, we wound up being the absolutely last people to get through immigration and the last people to get their bags. Things got much better from there (except for the cab drivers who are the rudest I’ve met anywhere, ever — it was actually kind of funny in a perverse way).

We stayed at the Courtyard close to the east train station (or Ostbahnhof) which was comfortable and access to the train station made it easy to make it to the central part of the city. Much of what makes Munich famous is found around Marienplatz — only a couple of stops from our hotel. When I came up into Marienplatz from the underground elevator (tired and beaten up by travel), the first words out of my mouth were, “Oh, Wow!” We spent the arrival afternoon and two full days exploring the area and found yet another small Italian restaurant with great food.

Here are some pictures that say so much than I can (you should be able to click on them for a larger view).

Ulm

The third full/final day we were in Munich, we decided to take the train over to Ulm (about two hours each way). Again, we had seen a terrific travel video showing a quaint Bavarian village. What we found was modern, high-street shopping terminating in a magnificent cathedral (under renovation). Neither quaint nor Bavarian were much to be had (although I found more Radlers and they were good).

Ulm appeared to be modern, high-end shopping and a church.

Nuremberg

Our fourth day in Bavaria found us heading to the train station early for the trip to Nuremberg. I enjoyed the city, which is walled with a huge castle on a high mount on the north end of the city. We had a cab take us up the road to the castle but neither I nor my husband were brave enough to scale the seemingly vertical driveway up to the castle itself. Nuremberg isn’t as hilly as, for example, Edinburgh, Scotland but it’s pretty challenging. I found the city charming with some great architecture and lovely scenery.

After spending the night in Nuremberg, we caught the train to Berlin, leaving Bavaria behind us.

I’m really glad we visited the region. However, if I were to plan the trip differently, I probably would have taken the four nights we spent in Bavaria and added them to the Berlin and Amsterdam itineraries. A lot of it just had to do with just the stress of added travel – bags, trains, hotels, etc. As much as I enjoyed Munich, Ulm and Nuremberg, if we had flown directly to Berlin from London, we would have been much less beatup by the trip.

Next stop – Berlin – where the Kindle ran away with the iPad! (Stay tuned!)

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The 2018 Trip: Overview

I’ve been addicted to travel since I was a small child and I’ve infected my husband with the love of planes, trains, and automobiles — seeing new places, meeting new people, trying new foods. For several years now, we’ve planned “the trip” every year and this year “the trip” was very ambitious. I’m going to provide more details (and pictures!) on each of our main destinations, but I thought it would be good to give you an overview to start.

The “Trip” for 2018

We flew from Dallas to London where we stayed for five nights (with a side trip to Norwich) before flying on to Munich, Germany. We were there for three days (with a side trip to Ulm) before moving on to Nuremberg for a day by train. From Nuremberg, we traveled again by train to Berlin, staying four days before taking the train to Amsterdam. We were only in Amsterdam for two nights before flying home to Dallas. In all, we were gone for 17 days.

Like any trip, there were challenges. Some were funnier than others. Some weren’t funny at all (until later). But it all worked out. While (in hindsight) I might have made a few changes, I wouldn’t have missed the experience for anything. Each of the seven cities we visited had its own charm and reason to visit.

I am a fairly fearless traveler but I did have some trepidation going into the journey. London has had instances of terrorist attacks (the latest just a few days after we left) and the current political climate made me wonder about the reception American tourists were getting in Germany. But the people were wonderful and warm and helpful (even if they did laugh at me trying to speak German). Seriously, in German restaurants, we wouldn’t even have to say anything, they’d just hand us the English menu …

The other concern about the trip was how ambitious it was. There wasn’t a lot of “down time” in the schedule for rest and there was a lot of hauling luggage around. But my RA and I made it, even though my RA seemed to gripe a lot.

So welcome aboard my travels. I’m glad you’re here. I will include my poor excuses for pictures and, at some point when they’re available, provide a link to my husband’s more brilliant photos.

First stop, London (in the next blog post).

Thanks for checking in.

 

 

Drop the Designation?

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First a note that this post is not directly about RA, so if you’re searching for info on that topic, please check out my other posts.

I’ve been contemplating our changing social mores lately and about our roles as chronic illness patients. With this as a backdrop, this morning I was creating an account on the website of a British company. In the pull-down menu of salutations, there was “Mx.” listed along with the usual litany of “Mr.”, “Mrs.”, “Ms.”, “Dr.”, etc.

Although this has been around for awhile, I had never seen this designation before. I could only conclude that it would be used by individuals who didn’t think their gender or marital status was either relevant to the situation or perhaps anyone’s business.

Being in the generation that gleefully dropped the Mrs. vs. Miss designation in favor of Ms. for women, this seems like a logical next step. (Although after being married for more than 20 years, I have adopted the more classic “Mrs.” when asked.)

But it makes me wonder if we need these designations at all — at least for social and most business interactions. I find that things that label us tend to separate us — gender, religion, race, age, etc. This opens the door for “us/them” discrimination. Does it really matter if we address an envelope to “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith” as opposed to “John and Jane Smith”? And why should we have to list our marital title (which also reveals our gender) on a website? Does it matter if I’m a Mr., a Mrs., or a Miss as long as my credit card works?

I do believe we should allow people who have earned titles to continue to use them if they wish — such as Dr. So-and-So. And certainly the military or other organizations that rely on an established chain of command should continue to use them (at least internally).

But I am given to wonder if the great unwashed rest of us should even bother with these designations and what great cataclysmic event(s) would occur if we simply stopped. Would all those empty data fields in all those trillions of databases simply collapse and crash cyberspace? (And would that be a bad thing if it did?) Would the worldwide ink companies suddenly go bankrupt because we quit writing/printing the salutation on the front of envelopes and therefore used less ink?

I think the British are on to something with their “Mx.” idea. I’m just not sure they’ve gone far enough. (I didn’t see “none of the above” or “none of your business” options.)

I hope that your designation today is both healthy and happy, because really that’s all that matters. Thanks for checking in.

Take a Pill, Gain a Pound

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Take a Pill, Gain a Pound
-graphic courtesy of rheumatoidarthritis.net

There is a lot of discussion about rheumatoid arthritis and obesity. But have you ever wondered if RA (or its treatments) are actually contributing to the issue? I have and discuss this exploration in my new article published on rheumatoidarthritis.net, here:

https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/take-a-pill-gain-a-pound/

Hair (not the Musical)

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I was recently at a meeting that included a number of other RA patient advocates. Over lunch, conversation turned (not unexpectedly) to various treatments and side effects. One of the others, who had long, luxurious dark hair, said, “It’s not fair. I was losing hair by the handfuls from my head but I still had to shave my legs.”

She was talking about her experience with methotrexate (MTX) which is the first medication prescribed for many RA patients. Being young, pretty, and single, hair loss was a non-starter for her and she quickly talked to her doctor about switching treatment plans.

To read the rest of this article including my own “hair-raising” experiences with RA treatments, visit rheumatoidarthritis.net here: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/hair-not-musical/

Man Plans, God Laughs

Even though I’m taking some time away, I couldn’t help but provide a mid-year update. It is, after all, July 1 and we’re now in the downhill slide into all the end-of-year frivolity. (It’s only 177 days until Christmas!)

I started the year with some (non) resolutions and I’m pleased to say that I’ve kept many of them. However, I’m also here to report that I have various new body parts, lots of airline miles and 15 extra pounds that I didn’t start the year with.

New Body Parts

As reported earlier, I had a reverse shoulder replacement in mid-February. I’m just over four months out and the shoulder is doing terrific — much better than my other shoulder which I had replaced about nine years ago. Seriously, it’s wonderful. Total recovery is a long process, but I have an amazing amount of strength and range of motion already.

I also had cataract surgery in both eyes. The second one was about two weeks ago and the first one was four weeks before that. Like my shoulder surgery, these new “eyes” have improved my life immensely. Surgery was easy, recovery has been good and my sight is fantastic. My only regret is that they didn’t have any options for X-ray vision eyes when I had them done. 🙂

I am hopefully done with surgery for 2018!

Airline Miles

In the midst of all that surgery, it seems like I’ve been traveling quite a lot the first half of the year. I went to Austin, Texas; Philadelphia (twice); Washington, D.C., Wichita, Kansas; Chicago; Nashville and Las Vegas. Most of these trips were related to my advocacy and were both enjoyable and productive. The trip to Wichita was to attend the memorial for my younger cousin who died of brain cancer and which still grieves me.

Travel is in store the second half of the year as well. While I’m sure there is more travel looming in my future, at the moment I have firm reservations for London and Norwich, UK; Munich, Nuremberg, and Berlin, Germany; Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona; and Las Vegas (again).

Weight Gain

It’s really been a perfect storm. During all the surgery recovery, not only was I not exercising, my husband was responsible for a lot of meals which consisted mainly of take out. In addition, my cataract surgery recovery included eye drops that had prednisolone in them (!) so I was on steroids for eight weeks (four weeks for each eye). And, of course, traveling seems to put the pounds on everyone. Fifteen friggin’ pounds. Sheesh! And I worked so hard to take it off. Back to the alternate day fasting and exercise!

So that’s how my year has gone so far. I’m proud to say that I’ve done pretty well with my resolutions to find a better balance in my life, to try to consciously be kind to people (which is tough sometimes when you’re on steroids …), and to keep positive influences in my life. Sustaining the weight loss has been a challenge, but the year isn’t over yet.

I hope the first half of the year has been kind to you and that the rest of the year delivers on the promise of health and happiness to you and yours. Thanks for checking in.