New blogger alert! Introducing German au pair Merle, who has been living with her host family in Virginia for almost 9 months now. Merle is kicking it off with a surprisingly summery travel blog. Beach holidays in February, anyone?
I am one of the lucky au pairs who are completely off on weekends! That gives me a lot of time to travel. Whenever my bank account allows it, I like to go on short weekend trips. Traveling is probably one of my favourite things about being an Au Pair in America. During these short trips I get to make new friends and meet new people from all over the world! Although I always travel with my friends, you usually get to meet lots of other people wherever it is you’re staying at. Hostels especially are my go-to place for exchanging the most interesting stories! Sometimes you come across Americans who are just visiting a different city, on other occasions you meet people from your home country or even further away!
My most recent weekend trip was very last minute! On a Thursday night, a friend of mine asked me if I was up to go to Virginia Beach with her. It was supposed to be sunny and around 80° Fahrenheit that weekend – so naturally, I said yes! We figured that it would be cheaper to rent a car if there were four rather than just the two of us, so we went with a couple of our friends. By the time we had everything figured out, it was Friday afternoon. We wanted to leave that very evening, so we quickly booked a car and a couple of hotel rooms. And just like that, we were ready to go!
We took the metro to the city, where we picked up our ride for the weekend. Our first stop: Dinner at McDonald’s! By the time we were back in the car, it was 8 pm. We knew that it would take us at least three hours to get to Virginia Beach, but we had to stop twice. The first time we needed to check the tire pressure of the tires and because we were running low on gas. Pro tip: Make sure to check both of those things before you leave for a road trip! The second time around we stopped so our driver could take a break. Some of America’s straight-line routes, like the infamous Route 66, can be pretty tiring, especially at night when it tends to be harder to keep your eyes open anyway. Another pro tip: When planning a road trip, make sure to allow some extra time for more than just a few quick coffee breaks. Around 11.30 pm we finally arrived at the hotel, quickly checked in and then went straight up to the rooms. My friend and I shared a room, but we had two queen size beds! We were so tired that we pretty much fell asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillows.
When we got up the next morning, we checked out our balcony straight away, which by the way was facing the ocean. We could hear the ocean and see the beach below us. We quickly hurried back into our room to get ready and meet our friends for breakfast as soon as possible. Because all we really wanted to do was finally go down to the beach! The water was too cold for me because it only was 41° Fahrenheit. But we walked along the boardwalk and spontaneously decided to rent a tandem bike that fit all four of us. We spent the next two hours riding our latest purchase up and down the boardwalk. Which was just as tiring as it sounds, so we changed into our swim suits and went to the beach again. And that’s where it hit me! I was lying on the beach, getting a tan. In February! We were not more than three hours away from home, where it was freezing and raining. And meanwhile, we were just casually hanging out at the beach!
ALL GOOD THINGS COME TO AN END
We spent the rest of the day at the hotel pool and went out for dinner afterwards. Whilst we were getting ready for bed, I noticed that I had managed to get a slight sunburn. Again – IN FEBRUARY! The next day it was sadly time to leave again, although we did get some souvenir shopping done before we took off. We all agreed that we had an awesome time and that it had been just the right thing to escape the bad weather back home! It took us 40 minutes longer to get back, as we were got stuck in traffic a couple of times. But in the end we all got back safely. When I told my host parents about the sunny weather at Virginia Beach, they wouldn’t believe it until I showed them my sunburn!
This is only one of many trips that I’ve been on so far. I personally think it is important to travel during your au pair year, as it allows you to really get to know the USA inside out. Stay tuned for my next blog post – take care, fellow Au Pair in America’s!