Daily Archives: May 13, 2014

Can’t believe summer is just around the corner, again…

It’s been a long winter in Michigan this year. There was a time, when I thought spring would never come. Then it came, and two days later we had the humid heat sweeping in that I associate with Michigan summers…I am not a fan of that, which is why we tend to spend the summers elsewhere. Like last year in South East Asia. Granted, the heat was also pretty humid over there, but there was so much to make it bearable: gorgeous beaches, awesome food, and even an awesome winery

The vineyards of GranMonte Winery

The vineyards of GranMonte Winery

Pretty much as soon as we got back from that trip, I put my foot down and declared that the summer of 2014 had to be spent in Europe. Non-negotiable. As much as I like living in the US for various reasons (and I do, despite the fact that I seem to constantly bitch about it), I have been missing Europe a lot: The close proximity of awesome places, affordable and great wine, the familiarity of things. Add in that my exchange brother from Burgundy (he now lives in Morey-St-Denis, for those familiar with the area) and I are celebrating knowing each other for 25 years this year. Our Silver Anniversary! Wow.

So we began making plans and it soon became clear that we would want to have at least two months, if not three. In the end, it all boiled down to available flights, and so I will now be across the ocean from May 27 until August 16. As we kept mailing with friends and family to figure out what to do, another thing emerged in our head: We have not been back to Africa since 2011 when we visited Kenya and Zanzibar. Given that we met in Botswana, we were beginning to dream of going to Southern Africa again…right as we were considering this, we found insanely cheap flights to Johannesburg, and ended up booking them even before we had our flights to Europe! Three weeks in Southern Africa had joined our itinerary.

I’ll spend about 10 days with my family around Mainz, and then will head to the UK to meet up with Nina and friends. We’ll spend about a week with friends in Oxford and then fly to Johannesburg.

It should be interesting, visiting Botswana again after all these years. I keep saying that that’s the way to ruin your relationship: Go back to the place where you met, and then realize how much “better” things were in those early days…;) Nah, I think we’ll be fine. The craziest thing is that we will be going to the pub where we met (aptly named Linga-Longa), and the night we arrive Germany will be playing Portugal in the World Cup. That’s crazy because the first time we really talked was when Germany was playing Portugal in the Euro Cup 2008…

Elephants in Chobe National Park, Botswana

Elephants in Chobe National Park, Botswana

From Bots we’ll head to Namibia to visit a friend for a few days, then down South to Cape Town. As soon as I knew we’d be going to Cape Town, I did some research on Stellenbosch and found the Stellenbosch Wine Routes association, a coordinated network of more than 148 wineries in the area. I reached out to them, and they have been incredibly helpful in putting together an itinerary for us that will include a bunch of winery visits and talks with winemakers as well as a vertical Pinotage tasting at Kanonkop, which is arguably one of the benchmarks of Pinotage. To say that we are excited is an understatement!

After a few more days in Cape Town, we will head back North, will take a detour into Lesotho, and then fly to Milan. We’ll have three weeks in Italy (a first for Nina, who, except for 24 hours in Rome, has not made it there), will visit wineries in Le Marche, Tuscany and the Campania region, and then will fly back to Germany just in time for my home village’s Weinfest (aka wine festival). After two more weeks in Germany, which we’ll spend considerable time of at the Mosel, we’ll head into Burgundy for a week: to celebrate with my exchange brother, and to explore the region more. Did I mention that my home village’s sister city is Pommard, and we already did a tasting with its mayor in the past?

In the Mayor of Pommard's cellars, Summer 2010

In the Mayor of Pommard’s cellars, Summer 2010

And then it is time to say good-bye to Europe, and head back to Michigan where we will move into a new apartment… Unlike last year, I decided not to start a guest blogging series despite the huge success it was. Mainly not to stretch my fellow writers’ good will more than necessary, but also because I hope to be blogging from Europe and Africa.

In any case, this should be an exciting summer.

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