So we set off on  Sunday, August 21st in the pursuit of our newest adventure – living in Moldova for nine months on a Fulbright research grant. It was surreal to leave, knowing that we were embarking on the trip that we had been working toward for the past two years.

All grins, gearing up for departure from Dulles Airport in D.C.

All grins, gearing up for departure from Dulles Airport in D.C.

Of course, due to our love of travel we wouldn’t have been satisfied with departing from D.C. to merely arrive at our final destination, so we made the trip into a journey. And the normally 20 hours of travel to fly from Washington, D.C. to Chisinau, Moldova became a 5-day excursion. Because, really, getting there is half the fun!

The flight was perfectly fine, we were fortunate to have a row all to ourselves. Ryan was particularly miserable because a little man seated in front of him kept his seat in front of Ryan reclined back for the duration of the flight, even

Somewhere between the sky and heaven...

I even managed to snap this shot, somewhere between the sky and heaven…

though he seemed to sit in the middle seat next to his wife for the majority of our trip. Ryan is a bit claustrophobic. But we ate well, enjoyed the free in-flight adult beverages, watched too many movies, and slept too few hours. And before we knew it we were in Munich, Germany!

I lived in Germany for 3 years with my family when I was a child. After moving back to the states permanently, I never expected to revisit the two places in which I had lived abroad. But Ryan and I had the opportunity to visit Panama during a cruise in 2007, so I was thrilled to return to Germany – even if only for 14 hours.

I was even excited to simply be in the Munich airport. I had read that the Munich airport is one of the best in the world for layovers, with available showers, free wifi, and sleeping pods (called NapCabs, short for napping cabins). We were blown away because you can actually leave your carry-on luggage at the airport while you explore the city. This has been an unheard of service in every airport we have traveled through thus far (naturally, for security reasons). So at 8AM we left our bags at the “Left Luggage” counter and took advantage of the airport train into Munich.

We had big expectations for what we could accomplish during our 14-hour layover. We were going to eat a big German breakfast, tour the city, take a trip to Neuschwanstein Castle, and top the day off with a traditional German feast in a Ratskeller.

That didn’t happen.

We explored Munich’s historic center, which was really lovely, and popped img_8502into a few historic buildings and shops. And then we realized that we were absolutely exhausted. Which was acceptable because it was around this same time that we realized that while Neuschwanstein Castle should technically take two hours to reach from Munich, by bus or train the trip is far longer. We made the executive decision to book a hotel room for the afternoon and take a glorious nap.

It was well worth it.

Then we traversed the city a bit more and enjoyed an incredible meal at a restaurant recommended to us by a friend. We drank Weiss beer, played cards, and people-watched. We had been at our table on the terrace for about an hour before I noticed the basket of Bavarian pretzels on the table. I excitedly munched on them while playing cards, despite the full meal that I had just devoured. When we asked for the check to make our way back to the airport, the server promptly came over and took inventory of the pretzel basket…it turns out that they were NOT complimentary.

Lesson learned.

We arrived back to the airport early enough to sit in a beer garden directly outside of the airport entrance (Bravo, Munich!) and enjoy one last pint of beer before our flight. Our flight left in the evening and we arrived in Bucharest around midnight to pouring rain. We’ve flown into Bucharest about 8 times during the course of our travels, but the monsoon-type rains caused a situation like nothing we had ever seen.

To be continued…

(Tl;dr: We flew into Munich and drank beer and ate Bavarian pretzels, yay!)