A Travellerspoint blog

The next chapter...


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As the realization of the fact that I am soon leaving Germany slowly sinks in; I have been thinking about what I want from the next chapter in my life. Have I come to any conclusions? No, not really. I have said to myself many times and several times to others....'I'm going home to no car, no home, and no job' and although I am terrified about it, there is a certain amount of excitement and adrenaline that comes with it. I am constantly amazed at people and their kindness. I actually had someone here offer to let me use their car in the states until I can get on my feet. I declined the offer but it's interesting to note that it was offered.

Right now, my life is consumed with the constant barrage of paperwork. Between attempting to find a job to the process of leaving my employment with the DOD, I could fill a pick-up truck with the loads of paperwork that has been filled out, emailed, faxed and mailed. Sometimes I think that I actually thrive on the constant state of influx and not knowing what's happening next; other times it drives me crazy. (the previous was actually written a week or so ago and I am just now getting back to finishing).

I am currently finished with all the paperwork, sitting in front of the fire at the hotel with Aco at my feet with a bone to occupy her and a cup of coffee to content myself. It's very relaxing after nearly a month of constant stress and challenges thrown my way. I am done....finished....ready to start the next chapter.

It's a little sad. I have developed friendships with some that will always be with me. I am most sad about leaving my work. It's been a wonderful and rewarding experience working with our American soldiers both as patients as well as co-workers. I have seen several of our army nurses leave to go downrange and heard some of their stories and experiences. I have first hand witnessed what this war means to the military community and families and the sacrifices that they give. It has been an enlightening experience and one that I will never forget. A heartfelt thank you to all that serve.

Who knows what the next chapter will hold for me.... Life is full of experiences and I am happy that I am open to let life happen to me rather than dictate where my life will go. It's full of adventure if you open yourself up to it....sometimes the adventure isn't quite what you expected and I have often wondered about the adventure that is now closing. It will be interesting in 6 months, a year, 10 years....what my thoughts are about my experiences that I have had here in Germany. There have been times of struggle, sadness and bitterness but also of laughter, joy and surprise. With all the good and bad, I will cherish the experience that I have had.

Posted by Khandilee 14:11 Comments (3)

Reflections....

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Merely six days...not even a full week after all the summer visitors have gone home, I find myself reflecting on my life here in Germany. Friends and acquaintances make FB comments like; 'your so lucky', 'loving your adventures', ' wish I could be there!, 'Let me check......yep....still hate you :)', ' I'm totally jealous...', 'I am so jealous of your life right now!!! :-)'.

I feel like a spoiled only child right now....I should be thrilled with the life that I am living but instead, I am sullen and missing all the things that I probably really don't want to be around anyway.

Germany has been a struggle for me from the beginning....I suffered from depression for the first time in my life. I don't know if it was simply being so far from home and family, the weather (it really was depressing), the huge pay-cut, or the chaos and struggles settling into working with the Army/Government. Whatever caused it, I finally understand what it is to be depressed and if anything good can be said about it, maybe I will be able to use this new understanding when dealing with my patients.

Traveling was my primary purpose in taking this position and I have traveled.... In the 9 months that I have been here, my travels include:

December: Trier Germany

January: Brussels and Brugge Belgium

February: Paris France & Brugge Belgium

March: Prague Czech Republic & Oslo Norway

April: Gdansk, Gdynia, Sopot Poland

May: Amsterdam Netherlands

June: Paris, France; Sardinia Italy; London England

July: Brussels, Luxembourg, Ireland

August: Brussels, Brugge, Prague, Karlov Vary and Scotland!

Now this is where the 'spoiled' child syndrome comes in: I'm not SATISFIED with the traveling that I have done. Not the number of places that I have been or the company that I have had or even the places themselves...the type of traveling is different; and I don't like it. It's been rushed and unplanned and spaced in the short few days of time off work and I never really feel like I have gotten 'away' and experienced the places that I have been.

I will admit that there have been a few memorable moments....I can distinctly remember the feeling in Oslo getting off the Metro and looking across the street realizing that I really did make it back to that wonderful bakery that I found the previous day and it still puts a smile on my face; The calmness that overcame me in Brugge when I was alone with just my camera and it started to pour rain as I watched the central square quickly become devoid of people; the closeness felt with Trinity while sitting on the curb eating a fried candy bar for the first time; the wonderful people that I have met along the way whether it's someone who briefly chatted on the bus or gave me direction in the subway or those that I was able to spend time with and forge the beginnings of friendships....

Even with the good memories, I'm not happy. I long to have a month free to wander like I did in Vietnam....staying as long as I wanted in each place and earnestly looking forward to the next. I hate having to wait for the work schedule to come out to see if I have time to go anywhere and paying twice the amount for the travel due to having to book it last minute. I miss the tourist tail of people coming from places that I am heading to give me advice on where to stay or towns/places to miss. I miss being a back-packer....yes, I'm older than the average back-packer but that's truly the life that I long for. Weekend vaca's are not for me....I long for the next extended trip.

I have been trying to figure out if I should go back 'home' since I got here. I say 'home' lightly because I don't literally mean my home where my family is but simply back to the life that I have lived for the past several years...travel nursing. Being able to not only travel the US while working but also able to satisfy the yearning for the extended trip (and being able to afford it).

My feelings have been torn on the issue of staying or leaving since the start. I love the work that I do here with the soldiers....not since working in home health with dying patients have I felt the satisfaction that I feel working with this unique group of patients. Their sacrifices are enormous and if I am able to give back just a fraction, it's fulfilling. I have learned so much since I've been here and met some wonderful people. However, on the flip side I am broke (making only 60% of what I was being paid in the states); I am lonely; and I want my old life back. I am coming home....

Surprised? Confused?

I've contacted recruiters and am working on getting a travel contract lined up for my return and am resigned to the fact that it's time to move on. I've given it a good shot but it isn't for me. I am trying very hard not to consider myself a failure in this venture which is difficult. There are a lot of places that I would love to travel to here that I'll miss out on this time around but there is always next time and maybe I'll be able to actually take the time to enjoy them.

I am planning to be back in the states in early/mid December. I hope to be able to travel directly from here to my first contract; which means that there will be no time for a family visit on my arrival. I figure if my family wants to see me, they can travel to me as easily as I can travel to them. Come March....I will hopefully have time to spend a few weeks catching up with everyone. In the meantime, I will be working and saving and planning the next extended trip.....

I haven't told my boss at work yet, that will happen next week after I talk to personnel and find out what act of God it's going to take to get everything arranged for me to leave.

I feel lightened by my decision so I am confident that it's the right decision. Tons of stuff to do in the meantime and hope to take one more trip before I go (finances permitting).

Posted by Khandilee 10:11 Archived in Germany Comments (2)

It's been a Whirlwind!

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Wow...it's been a while since I posted and so much has happened. Jeni and Teresa both arrived without any issues just after I sent Trinity through Customs control at Frankfurt airport. It was a bit of a tearful goodbye. I just really didn't want to see her leave this time.

Since then...it's been non-stop! Work...travel....work...travel....work...and I think there might have been a bit of sleep in there somewhere!?! Jens back home now in sunny California and Teresa is recouperating and planning our Scotland trip while I am working the next few days.

We had a lovely pass-through and lunch trip through Karlov Vary in the Czech Republic then jaunted on toward Prague. We choose a lovely little bar for lunch and ended up with enough food to feed at least three families with only the three of us to eat it...needless to say, there was plenty left behind. It was delicious and the waitress was a kind and patient local woman who gave us much needed assistance with deciphering the menu. I got to have a Czech beer that I had been craving since my last trip and it didn't disappoint.

On our arrival, we followed the sounds of a band playing which led us to a bridge overpass near the river. There was a band playing under the overpass and we enjoyed listening for a few minutes...until they asked us to pay 'admission'. If I had been traveling alone, I might have paid and had a few beers and listened to the band but we were on a mission to find food and get to Prague so off we went.

Karlov Vary is a quaint town and would be a great place to return for a longer visit. Maybe even seek out the spas that it is so well know for.

Prague was just as inviting and beautiful as I had remembered. Teresa scored us a great place for the first two nights....a HUGE hotel room with separate sleeping room and a great location close to the Old Town. Aco was with us and had plenty of room to romp and play.

Two full days of walking around the city and we were all exhausted. Day one, we took the free Sandeman's tour and not having enough, on the second day we took another Sandeman's tour; a castle tour this time...it was great...however, I would NOT recommend two of these walking tours back to back. Our feet were on fire! Just a bit much for us in the 'older' crowd! haha Having been to Prague before, I was surprised that there was still so much that I didn't see during my first visit. It was lke seeing the city again for the first time....some things were familiar though; like the coffee shop that Switzer and I had fab desert and coffee to warm up on the cold winter day that we visited.

I still didn't get to the Black Light theater or the Marrionette theater but that just gives me an excuse to return!

Back home and a few more days of work for me; a few wine-tour drives for the girls (one of which they were actually able to find some wine) haha. Then we were off to Belgium....

We breezed through Brussels on our way to Bruge. The Flower Carpet was on the iteniary. It only happens once every two years and I wanted to see it. The girls obliged and it was a bit less than exciting. The flowers had already begun to wilt and the crowd was so crazy that you could barely see it without standing in line for hours to get on one of the balconey's above. You know how excited I am about lines, right? Well, needless to say; we didn't stand in line for the balcony and were content with the view from the ground.

Weaving through the crowds; we made our way to the Maniquen di Pis. Disappointment was clear on Jen's face as she muttered 'is that it?'. I think that is most everyone's opinion when they see it. We indulged in a waffel from one of the street side vendors and as always it was wonderful. We were soon back on the road headed to Brugge...

I LOVE BRUGGE I LOVE BRUGGE I LOVE BRUGGE I LOVE BRUGGE I LOVE BRUGGE I LOVE BRUGGE I LOVE BRUGGE I LOVE BRUGGE I LOVE BRUGGE I LOVE BRUGGE I LOVE BRUGGE I LOVE BRUGGE I LOVE BRUGGE I LOVE BRUGGE

Sorry, got a little over-excited; but really, I do love Brugge. It's such a wonderful place and I immediately felt stress-free on our arrival. The canals and bridges and cobblestone streets and beautiful buildings....it all makes me happy. Now, if I could transplant Prague's beer into Brugge it would be perfect. Yes, Belgian beer is actually quite good but I still think that the Czech beer is far superior!

There isn't anything that really stands out as something to write about from the trip to Brugge...I'll suffice it to say that we had a wonderful time wandering the streets, taking pictures, eating chocolate and drinking beer (well, I drank beer). Our last day, we decided to take a drive out to the North Sea. We were so close to the coast and I had never been and really wanted to see it....

The North Sea....was ANGRY! Really, the wind was crazy and nearly knocked us off our feet as we attempted to walk in the rain with umbrellas in hand (Teresa's got broken by the wind and I wish that I could have gotten it on camera...it was priceless). As we were being blown down the road on our arrival, we flew into a bike rental place and I asked to rent bikes (totally joking)...the boys behind the counter looked at me as if I were a crazy woman and asked 'today?'. I couldn't help but crack up...just couldn't keep up the rouse. We got a quick coffee at a local diner and watched the wind and rain outside and got back to the car and headed up the coast a bit further.

Our next stop had a peir out to the sea with a pot of mussels for Jen which we all shared (Teresa didn't indulge much). Back to the hotel we ended our day with an early dinner and bed....

I am now back to work for a few days then Teresa and I are headed to Scotland for one last jaunt before she leaves......

Click HERE for pictures!

Posted by Khandilee 17:27 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged women Comments (1)

The Luck of the Irish

Nelly's Blessing May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

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Trinity and I are in Ireland. It's been an interesting trip so far. Ireland is a beautiful country and I hope to get back here and explore some more. We (meaning I) didn't plan this trip very well though so we ended up spending a lot of our time on a bus traveling from town to town. I assure you that this IS NOT the optimal way to see Ireland. There are so many places that I would have loved to have stopped and spent a little time to explore and others that I wish we had not spent quite so much time in.

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My advice....RENT A CAR! Get over the fact that they drive on the 'wrong' side of the road and the fact that you may die on the narrow roads with cliffs on either side of you and simply DRIVE! A lesson learned for me.

The land is so lush and green. Green beyond any green I have ever experienced. When the sun comes out it's nearly like being in the Land of OZ (from the Wizard of OZ; not Down Under).

We started our trip by landing in the worlds smallest airport in Kerry Ireland. I really mean this....I have seen some small airports but this one is by far the smallest! Three buses and several hours later; we finally arrived at the Dingle Gate Hostel for a two night stay. We were told to just tell the driver to drop us at Dingle Gate Hostel which we did with fingers crossed.

We hadn't seen the glimpse of a real town in quite a while and I was a bit fearful of what we had gotten ourselves into when the bus driver pulled to the side of the road with nothing in sight and announced 'Dingle Gate Hostel'.

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We stepped off the bus and grabbed our bags and glimpsed the hostel just down a short lane. As we walked up to the hostel, a short bearded Irishman slide out from under a van marked Dingle Gate Hostel. His hands coated in grease and a mumbling of something not working and parts needed. I was having a difficult time understanding the thick Irish accent. Turns out that this was our host; Brian.

Brian promptly showed us to our room and gave us the key. We asked to be taken to Annascaul to pick up some food for our hostel stay and some dinner at a local place. Although I felt a little imposing, he loaded us into his beat up personal vehicle with fliers on the floorboard in the front seat and a baby seat in the back and dropped us off at a local pub for dinner. We were instructed to call when we were ready to return and realized during our dinner that we didn't have a working phone. It only took a few short minutes to get into town from the hostel; so we decided to walk back.

Our walk back to the hostel was longer than we thought. It took about 15-20 minutes to walk along the narrow road with no brim or sidewalk for most of it. It was a little scary with the cars careening around curves and speeding past. We stopped along the way to take a few picture of the sheep and countryside.

Now, I knew that this place was out of town....I just didn't realize how far out of town! Initially I thought that we could rent bikes and ride to the closest town (about 2km away). Then catch the bus to Dingle Town whenever we liked. The reality was that there are only 2 buses a day from Annascaul to Dingle Town and unless you don't value your life, biking is not an option (this leaned from the earlier walk)!

On our first night; we met one of the residents at the hostel, named Rhonan (sp?). He was cooking a wonderful smelling meal in the hostel kitchen and hanging in the common room alone. We struck up conversation and ended up getting beaten pretty badly at Monopoly by him. Fortunately for us, we didn't have to suffer through the end of the game because he had to leave to pick up a friend, Nile that was also staying at Dingle Gate. Both Nile and Rhonan are from Northern Ireland and are working in one of the restaurants in Dingle Town.

The next morning...well, actually late morning; we made our way to Dingle Town. We were too late in the day for most of the tours so we ended up taking a one hour harbor tour to see Fungi the local dolphin. I really wanted to get our on the water and see the town looking in; but really had mixed feelings about taking a tour to 'stalk' the dolphin. I was right...there were times on the tour that I felt like we (along with several other boats) were crowding in on Fungi and being a nuisance. Trinity and I tasted our first-ever deep fried candy bar...we choose a Mars Bar. A little much for me....
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We ended up having a lovely visit and got to see most everything that we had planned; including a lovely surprise that we hadn't planed; thanks to Brian. A wonderful walk to a pristine lake and up to the waterfall that fed it. Nothing like hiking up the Irish mountainside! Our 'Luck of the Irish' hit when attempting to get a picture of Trinity at the waterfall. She stepped onto a moss covered rock and landed on both knees; banging up one pretty good. No one ever told me that the 'luck of the Irish' wasn't always good...

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The rest of our down-time at Dingle Gate was spent with me getting beaten at pool and alternately; ping pong. Trinity spared no mercy!

On leaving our home away from home; it was another day of buses. We stood outside the hostel 'watching for the bus' for nearly an hour. It felt quite odd standing on the side of the road waiting to flag down the bus as it passed, especially knowing that if we missed it; there wouldn't be another for several hours. It turned out ok and we made the bus. Two transfers later and we arrived in Cork. At our stop for our second transfer; the 'luck of the Irish' hit again. As I stepped off the bus with my backpack on, I slipped on the steps and twisted my back. This really scared me; all I could think is that this might be the end of my traveling...I know, pretty lame to think of traveling and not work but I got my annual social security summary about a month ago and I will be pretty well taken care of if I should become 'disabled'. ;o)
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As if we hadn't already had enough of buses; we decided to take a bus tour with Paddywagon Tours the following day to see the Cliffs of Mohr, Burren & Bunratty Castle. It was a fair day and I'm glad that we did the tour but I am SICK of buses! I don't know if it was the fact that I had already been on buses too much or if it was the tour itself, but I wasn't very impressed with the tour. I felt that we could have spent more time in some places and less in others. When we stopped at Bunratty Castle, we were given a short 30 minutes. Instead of exploring the castle and re-created town (which would have been interesting), Trinity and I decided to have an Irish Coffee at Durty Nellys next door. Durty Nellys was a quaint little Irish Pub with great atmosphere and strong drinks. I strongly recommend a stop here for a pint or grub.

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Initially, we planned for 4 nights in Cork but realized that we needed to get back closer to the airport for our departure flight. We canceled the last day in Cork and booked a day in Killarney; just a short trip from the airport. We have two full days in Cork one of which was consumed by the bus tour to Mohr and today; which I feel we are attempting to recuperate from all the bus riding!

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To be continued.....

Day two in Cork turned out to be quite disappointing. The highlight being a stop at Lush for some new products. Yes, I am addicted to Lush! Being a Sunday, most everything was closed in Cork and we ended up spending much of the day back at the hostel online playing with photos and being bored.

We arrived in Killarney and I was nearly pissed....THIS is where we should have stayed for the trip. It's very centrally located to all of the sights of the Ring of Kerry. Neptune's Hostel was very inviting (even if the beds were hard). The staff friendly and all the amenities needed; including reasonably priced day-tours. I may have to return...

Only two short days and my baby girl goes home to the states and my friends Teresa and Jeni arrive for a visit...http://www.travellerspoint.com/my_blogeditentry.cfm?blogid=17181&entryid=212202.it's going to be fun!

More Kilarney Photos
More Cork Photos
More Dingle Town Photos

Posted by Khandilee 17:41 Archived in Ireland Tagged family_travel Comments (3)

2 Days; 2 Countries

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Trinity and I had a bit of a rough start with our Belgium trip. We went to get the rental car on Friday afternoon and after staying up all day after working and finally filling out all the paperwork around 3pm, we got the car loaded up with our things and ready to hit the road......almost. When I sat down in the car; I immediately realized that it didn't have air!! F>(k THIS! I went back into the rental office and point blank told them that I didn't want it without air....

Well, the car that has air is 'on it's way here'. If we wanted to wait, we could. I told them to call me when the car was back, cleaned and ready and Trinity and I headed home. I wasn't home for 5 minutes and they called me....seems that they thought I was going to Prague and there's something to do with lack of insurance for Prague and Poland. I need to find out if this is true with all rental agencies or just this one....

So, we made plans for me to pick up the car in the morning; postponing our departure. Not really a problem as at this point Trinity and I are both exhausted!

Saturday morning; we picked up the rental car and headed out to Brussels. Our to-do list included; Belgian chocolate; beer; fries; waffles and the Mannequin de pis and his (much less known) female counterpart. As an add-on we decided to go see the atomium. Can you believe that there were people zip-lining from it...crazy is all I can say!!

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This was all accomplished by around 5pm...including drive time.

It's interesting that the more we travel the less impressed we are with things like the Grand Place Grote Market. As beautiful as it is, there is not the 'wow' factor that there once was....it's almost sad.

We had planned to stop back at the hotel for a quick nap then out to dinner and sample a few more Belgian beers....we woke up at 2330!! So much for dinner....neither of us felt like 'fixing up' for the weekend crowds at the bars so after a quick walk with Aco, we were back to bed. I blame it on the wonderfully soft beds at the NewHotel.

Sunday morning we decided to make our way to Luxembourg on the way home. We took the CitySightSeeing Hop On Hop Off bus and made our tour of the small city. Everything was closed (Sunday's !!!) so we grabbed a quick bite to eat then decided to head back home to Germany.

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We found our way easily enough back to the parking garage where the car was parked only to find it totally locked down....seems it closes early on Sundays as well. After traipsing around the building several times looking like we were trying to break into the place; we decided that we were NOT getting in. Next stop...tourist info at Central Station across the street. The man at the tourist office was kind and helpful and tried to call the number that we had gotten off the garage security window to no avail...there was no answer! Once more around the parking building just to make sure that there wasn't some hidden door that we didn't see before then our final stop...the police station!!

I wasn't allowed into the building; had to push a button outside and try to explain my situation from the speaker. Finally a kind (and cute) policeman appeared at the door. He offered to call the owner and see if he would come out to open it for us and suggested that we wait by the garage; which we did. We sat at the garage like vagrants for about 20 minutes; I was resigned to the fact that we just needed to get a hotel room and stay the night and get the car when the garage opened in the morning. Trinity was not as resigned as I was....

Then a man emerged from the garage and opened the gate to let us in.....YEAH...SUCCESS! Off we went...

It was a swift visit to Belgium and Luxembourg. Much more to see and do another time but a fun way to spend the weekend. Now I really need to get the Ireland trip booked.....

More Photos Here

Posted by Khandilee 09:49 Archived in Belgium Tagged family_travel Comments (2)

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