"Travel is Broadening"

I am not the first person to note that this cliche can be true both figuratively and literally. My mind, and waist-line, are expanding as we speak!

Gosh, I wonder what's up with my mysteriously shrinking jeans?

So we're about two thirds of the way through the Great House Swapping Adventure of 2012, and, as I feared, I still seem to have no ability to blog away from home.

There are some good reasons for this (internet access issues, having too much fun doing things) but also I've been struck by my usual travel-induced web paralysis. Strangely enough, this condition does not prevent me from surfing aimlessly or reading email. Yet I can't seem to get it together to respond to anything, or even find my Twitter and Facebook passwords. And as to blogging? Yikes, suddenly it's way too hard! Too much to say, but none of it seems to cohere into any sort of theme, let alone one related to health and fitness.

However, since many of you... er, several of you... um, well ok, two of you have said "at least post some pictures fer chrissakes you lazy crab" (not an exact quote), it seemed time to suck it up and throw some crap up here. Also, there's a guest post coming up and I wanted to at least pop in once before turning over the reins again.

So what follows are some highlights and lowlights of our adventures, complete with obligatory photos.

Because gosh, viewing other people's travel photos is as fascinating as hearing them describe their medical ailments! Or that funny dream they had last night with the Russian mafia and Lady GaGa and the stolen Mercedes that kept changing into a pink tricycle. So, um, enjoy!

Europe So Far...

First up, here are our German hosts Ute and Christina, who not only drove hours and hours to pick us up from the airport, but took us sightseeing in Prauge, Dresden, Potsdam, and Berlin. Plus they fed us, housed us, and spoke German (very handy at restaurants, especially if you don't want to accidentally order pigs feet or something). Oh and they just happened to be two of the most fun and funny traveling companions we could have asked for.

You would never guess Ute's profession from her liberal sense of humor and propensity to swear like a drunken sailor (one of the things we have in common). But Ute is a pastor who has congregations in several adorable German villages. These villages are set among scenic forests and lakes and somehow have not been f-cked with throughout the centuries, so to call them "quaint" is a vast understatement. 

Alas, no pictures quite captured her village, but here's the interior of her home church (where she presumably does not swear quite so much).  And let's just use this as a stand-in for the 8 million other pictures of church interiors and exteriors we took, ok, even if some of the others were perhaps on a grander scale?  It turns out there are a lot of churches in Europe!

What about jet lag, you may ask?

Well, while some days we felt quite perky,

other days, not so much.  Jet lag, I've learned, makes for some really flattering travel photos.

It was very difficult not to nod off when in any moving vehicle. Which was fine if we were driving back home after seeing some lovely sight, but not so ideal for tour buses and boats etc.

(And yeah, so technically beer may not be the recommended treatment for daytime sleepiness.)  Anyway, our German friends now probably think all Americans are lumbering, bumbling low-energy creatures prone to napping at every pause in the conversation.

So everywhere we go there seems to be some grand cathedral or picturesque canal or castle or palace or something.  

But I'll just stick with those few examples, because, well, photos don't really capture the feeling of being surrounded by this stuff. Every twist and turn of a narrow cobblestone alleyway seems to lead to some new surprising sight, whether it's charming or awe-inspiring or just plain weird.

What, you don't get your feet nibbled on by fish as part of your personal grooming routine?

Oh, and yes, we are still adolescents who must take pictures whenever we see the word "butt."

Just be grateful there aren't endless examples of "Ausfahrt" signs.

Of course, some cities like Berlin, which had the crap bombed out of it, tend more towards the modern and edgy.  In fact the whole city seemed to have a very young, vibrant and at times dissonant feel.

And sharing grafitti "art" seems to be something of a local pastime.

I have to confess, I felt a bit like an old fart there.  Plus, there's that annoying "you must pay to pee" thing.

Since arriving in Edinburgh, we've been having a blast seeing the sights, strolling the streets, going to museums (FREE! We love FREE!), checking out the Military Tattoo,

and of course, seeing a ton of great stuff at the Fringe Fest.

Our favorite so far? An Australian comedian, Hannah Gadsby. You know when you laugh so hard you are weeping and have snot dripping out of your nose and you have to rummage around quickly to find Kleenex because sitting in the first row of a stand-up comedy show in a small venue you do not want to be noticed at all, let alone for having snot coming out of your nose?

OK, so maybe you don't know.

Anyway, if you live Down Under, check her out.  If, that is, we haven't kidnapped her and stuffed her into our luggage and smuggled her home with us.

 Let me out, stupid Yanks!

(And yeah, you'd think that since we saw two of her shows, I could have snapped a photo of my own, but I would have felt self conscious. Please don't sue me, Hannah!)

And so let's see, what else...

Well, before we got to our lovely flat in Edinburgh (where we can shop and cook), we were eating out a bit more often than we usually do.  Fun!

Yet restaurant meals can be a bit...

pricey. (The above was supposed to be sort of a pictorial "Ka-ching." I have no idea what a Pf is.)

Besides the expense, we also seemed to be eating a lot more ice cream, beer, bread, and butter than we were used to...

Oh yeah. And cheese. Europeans? Big on cheese.

As to the health and fitness implications of all this? Well, since we've gotten to Edinburgh we've been trying a little harder to eat healthy, visit the gym, do a little hiking...

a little biking,

and a crapload of walking all over the city. The goal is not necessarily to keep up with our normal routine, but to avoid descending into such a hellhole of gluttony and sloth that it takes months to recover. So given the high bar we're setting for ourselves: so far, so good!

Next up, we'll be toodling off for some sightseeing around the countryside, and beware, there may be more photos.

And yet again, apologies for not catching up better with you all... and much gratitude for those who continue to stop by and read or comment!

How y'all doing? What am I missing out on? Having a good summer?

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