My Surprise Marriage Proposal

Read about my surprise marriage proposal

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Castles Inspired by Imagination or Insanity

I’m sitting at the Abu Dhabi airport waiting for a flight to Australia and this is my first attempt at using the WP app to blog using my iPhone. (Insert Applause)
On my last flight, apart from listening to a beautiful German singer named Franziska, I was reflecting on the wonderful weekend i had visiting 3 castles in Southern Germany, each relating to King Ludwig II.

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My favourite castle was Linderhof (pictured above), in which the King lived 8 years. As i walked around the magnificent courtyard, I couldn’t stop thinking about this very impressive King and his struggle with depression. Apparently in later years he withdrew completely into his own imagination, prompting the government of his day to declare him insane.
The second castle we saw was Neuschwanstein, an idealistic architecture of Ludwig’s imagination. History might call King Ludwig II crazy, but Walt Disney was inspired by his castle design, and is remembered as an inspiring dreamer.
Can imagination really become a destructive force? What are your thoughts?

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A Surprise is Waiting in the Cemetery

Yes, you read that headline right, I did say “cemetery”, and please forgive me if you were expecting a ghostly tale. I have just returned from another wonderful visit to Bayern in the South of Germany. On this trip I was amazed by something totally unexpected. As we entered the cemetery where my girlfriends father was buried, I was captured by the beauty, color, and serenity of the place. Here’s my description:

  • birds singing loudly
  • large beautiful trees
  • bright green hedges
  • flowers, flowers, flowers
  • candles and sunshine
  • neatly trimmed grave sites

In Australia, people might visit the grave of a loved one on the first anniversary, but here in Germany the grave sites are regularly visited and carefully manicured by relatives. I tried describing what an Australian cemetery looked like, and both my girlfriend and her mother looked at me in shock.

I wonder what other surprises Germany has for me.Ā Do you have a story about a cemetery you have visited?

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Living with the Travel Bug

I woke up this morning and was shocked at how much of my life now revolves around travel. A quick count of apps on my iPhone revealed that 41 were related to travel. I regularly delete apps I haven’t used for awhile, so who knows how many more I have downloaded in the last year. The photo below shows a small selection of the apps I used during my last trip to Australia, Malaysia and back to Germany.

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I also estimate that I spend at least 10 hours a week using these apps to learn language, research flights, and plan future trips. I spend another couple of hours a week uploading my travel photos to Facebook…. because we all want our friends to see us enjoying life…right? šŸ˜‰

So as I reflect on how different my day to day life is now, compared to just a few years ago, I am grateful for the way that travel has enriched my life. I have a much more bigger perspective on world events than the lounge chair critics, my mental muscles have grown as I embrace the challenge of learning new languages, I appreciate the beauty that I see around me each day, I live much more in the now and spend less days fantasizing about the future.

How has travel changed your life? Would you like to do more travelling but feel limited by work, family, or money?

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I Survived the Darkest Gloomiest German Winter on Record

As I write this blog update, the sun is “currently” shining, birds are singing, people are smiling ………..

UPDATE: since I wrote the first line and got distracted by a dozenĀ meteorologicalĀ websites, the sun is now half shinning and the birds have disappeared. …..and by the way I did find a website that declared that I had survived the darkest winter on record here in Germany.

Officially we are now in Spring, but with the temperature outside being just 1 degree above zero, this Australian isn’t too convinced.

BUT, if you think I’m one of those people who is complaining….. you would be wrong. I have loved every moment of my first winter here in Germany. I might have missed the hottest Australian summer, but I saw the darkest German winter. The best part has been the snow!!Ā In the part ofĀ AustraliaĀ where I am from, we seldom have snow. OoooooK, soooooo to be more specific…… it almost never snows, except for the once in a lifetime snowfall we had in 1984. Here’s a websiteĀ for the geeks who want the hard facts.

So lets get down to the business end of the blog and list some of the things that helped keep a smile on my face during the gloomiest German winter on record.

  • At the top of my list is the novelty of looking out the window each morning, hopeful of seeing snow falling.Ā 
  • Second on my list is having the opportunity to share winter with the most beautiful lady in Germany!! ……I’m biased of course šŸ˜‰
  • don't be forgottenLaughing at funny pictures others post onĀ FacebookĀ  …. and creating my own laughable moments. (comment below if you want to order a red hat like the one in my photo)
  • Keeping my mind active by learning the German language …… German dogs go “Wau Wau” and Australian dogsĀ go “Woof Woof”, just for the record.
  • Going for walks in the snow just for the exercise, and to take photographs for my AustralianĀ FacebookĀ friends.
  • Reading inspirational stories. If you haven’t already heard of Nick Vujicic, check out his website. This guy is a legend.
  • …and lastly, I begin each year by setting inspiring goals. Checkout theĀ Best Year Yet program,Ā and if you’d love to have me assist you with additional coaching you can comment below.

So that’s how I survived the darkest gloomiest winter here in Germany.

UPDATE: you guessed it, IT’S SNOWING AGAIN!! šŸ˜€

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IRAN: friendly people, mountains and snow

I have just arrived back from my second trip to Iran, and once again it made such a positive impression on me. Here’s my guys summary of my experience:

Favorite Memory
Interacting with the locals in Tehran, Esfahan and Shiraz, and discovering their way of life, their food, and sharing friendship.

Funniest Experience
Watching my friend Daniel trying to order breakfast in English at the hotel in the Ski Resort of Shemshak.

Favorite Place
Walking along the river bank in Esfahan and talking to the locals. The river had no water at the time, but the atmosphere was relaxed and it was interesting to see how the locals spent their leisure time.

Most interesting thing I learned
There are many synagogues in Esfahan, and although western news media portray negative feelings between Iran and Israel, there are about 8,700 Persian Jews living peacefully in Iran.

I can’t wait to visit again next year!!

Men relaxing near the river park Young people in Esfahan Persian people love the outdoors Iranian family relaxing on the river Guys Rollerblading Men Socializing along the riverbank Mountains of Shemshak

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My First Christmas in Germany

When I was growing up as a child, Christmas day always involved waking up at the first sign of light, and running through the house to discover what Santa had left for us under our Christmas tree. I never guessed that Christmas was celebrated so differently on the other side of the world.
Here in Germany, Christmas is celebrated on the evening of December 24th, which meant that even though we were many time zones apart, I was celebrating Christmas at the same time as my family in Australia.
I spent Christmas with my beautiful girlfriend and her family in Bavaria, close to the border of Austria.

My ā€œguysā€ summary of Christmas in 7 beautiful memories:
1. Setting up and decorating a real living Christmas tree in our lounge room.
2. Lighting the candles that decorated our dinner table. We even had candles that were safely positioned all over our tree.
3. Walking through the snow and huddling inside a Lutheran church that looked over 1000 years old to sing carols. The sound of the organ and choir was truly amazingā€¦but apparently the church was only 100 years old.
4. Watching Annette play traditional German Christmas carols on her violin, while her 84 year old mother accompanying her on the piano.
5. Visiting a local cemetery at dusk with Annetteā€™s family, and seeing hundreds of Catholic families surrounding the graves of their loved ones. The families had decorated the graves with beautiful wreathes, candles, and even small Christmas trees. A choir was singing carols in the background. It was a very moving experience, and one that Annetteā€™s family were also experiencing for the first time.
6. Taking a short train journey over the border to Salzburg in Austria to visit the beautiful Christmas markets, with all types of handmade items, people drinking gluhwein (a popular hot alcoholic drink), and young people on ice skates on an open air rink.
7. Visiting a mountain area only 15 minute from the house, which has a large frozen lake surrounded by the most amazing snow covered mountain peaks. The weather was beautiful, and we were able to walk along the edge of the lake to a cafƩ where we enjoyed hot Chocolate. (mouth watering memory)

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