A couple months ago, I was convinced to extend my trip so that I could work side-by-side with my client in a town called Aachen just on the border of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany. They made arrangements for me to stay for another 4 weeks past my original trip. I was hesitant, because I really wanted to go home. But it just so happened that my sister was "in town" for business. Her company is Dutch, and their office was less than an hour away from Aachen. So being able to see a familiar face pushed me over the edge and I agreed to extend my trip.
The extension was not without some hassle. The biggest issue was getting a visa. As a US citizen, I can stay in most parts of Europe for 90 days without a visa. I planned my trip to be 89 days for this exact reason. So staying longer would require me to get permission. Long story short, I got it, but it was a bureaucratic pain. And there were other arrangements as well like changing my flight (since I bought my ticket with miles, I was forced to use more miles to change my flight), finding a furnished apartment, etc.
But, I was really looking forward to it. Traveling for 3 months straight might sound like a pleasure cruise (and it is), but it can really be exhausting too. I was really ready to get back to work. No more packing/moving around every 3 days, no more researching where to eat, where to sleep, what sites to see. I got to go back to something that resembled normalcy in some way.
It's a good thing I love what I do, because we worked long hours, 6 days a week, and almost 2 weeks straight at one point. But I was still in a foreign country and still did some touristy things. I got to enjoy this not-so-little German town of Aachen. It's really charming. My timing was pretty good too. Aachen has a well-known Christmas market. It's pretty serious. It takes weeks of preparation for the month-long event. They setup booths that are basically small log cabins and sell things like crafts, ornaments, nutcrackers, paper weights, scarves, Christmas windmills, wind chimes, etc. And of course, food. I'd tell you about it, but I'd rather just show you pictures (coming soon).
I had a really good time with my client and his wife. We share a similar love for food. She is quite the chef, especially for baked goods. Her grandfather was a master baker and teacher, so naturally, she and her family benefited greatly from that. It was actually really sad to say goodbye to them, spending almost every waking hour with them for 4 weeks, and not knowing when the next time we would see each other again. But there's already talk of a reunion next year. So until then...