Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

We've had a nice snowfall here in Munich. Fasanerie, our little lake, is a Winter Wonderland. The Christmas Markets are in full swing and we've made the rounds in Dresden, Munich and Regensburg. We're still a bit miffed that BFMF doesn't have their own Weinachts Markt. I know at least two people who would have gone for a Bratwurst and Gluhwein on our way back from the bakery.

Monday, December 1, 2008


In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French;
I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their language.
Mark Twain

The last weekend in November we made a quick get-away to Paris. We found a flight for 32 Euro - okay after taxes/fees it was more like 78 but still... and hotels all have low-season rates. It was a no-brainer.

For some reason, I've never heard the call of Paris before. My "must see" list always seems to have less developed countries at the top. I suppose because underdeveloped places feel both more challenging and more like getting away from it all at the same time. But one of my goals before coming was to see as many places in Europe that I had not yet visited. Paris, Prague, Budapest, Tuscany were/are all at the top of my list.

We packed a lot into four days. Cathedral Notre Dame, Chateau de Versailles, the Montparnasse district, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Mouffetard District, Champs Elysees, amazing bakeries and, of course, Parisian cafes for coffee, gourmand meals and great people watching.

Our hotel was located in the St. Germain district which turned out to be an ideal location. The area is a mix of boutiques - Dior/Vuitton, unique shops, and of course cafes. One day we had a pricey cafe-au-lait and baguette at Les Deux Magots one of Hemingway's haunts just up the street from our hotel. The dichotomy between Les Deux Magots and Sloppy Joe's (Hemingway's Key West, FL hangout) made me smile. I can only assume the common denominator must have been alcohol - the great leveler of all things.

Conveniently there was a metro station one block from our hotel. We'd purchased a 5-day rail pass so we could navigate around the city easily. Which is not to say that we didn't do our fair share of walking. We walked - A LOT. One of the best things about Paris are the side streets. You can wind down narrow streets, take a few twists and turns, and stumble upon an amazing church or a dead-end courtyard complete with a fountain. It's like exploring an old house that has some new delight behind every door.

I think the highlights for me (besides just exploring with no agenda) were Versailles and the Eiffel Tower. At the risk of rendering ignorant American stereotypes true - I was completely awed by the size of the Eiffel Tower. Yes, I knew it was big. Yes, I knew it was tall. But it is massive. Even if you have nil interest in architecture you can't help but admire such genius. How?? The idea?? The construction?? How??

I think this was the same feeling that captured me at the Palace Versailles. How?? The size is staggering. The opulence overwhelming. It's all a bit surreal. I find it hard to actually get my head around the fact that this was a Home / a Lifestyle / a Society for a fortunate few. It feels like an exaggerated movie set that went overboard with gold spray paint. Decidedly on the low-brow scale, I could not help but ponder the more banal things that accompanied this life. If there was a grand ball, how did the ladies go to the loo? Did they hold it all night? Were there anonymous maid servants to hold up their skirts (it would require more than one) and assist with the clean-up? Whose loo did they use? Hardly the King or the Queen's but it is not as though there were conveniently located multi-stall toilets in the hallway. With 500 people in attendance I imagine the ladies room line must put the line at The Garden to shame. You'd miss half the night by the time you were pinned, laced and powdered. Perhaps that's the reason why such extravaganzas lasted until dawn. At least a lady could get in a dance or two even if she'd enjoyed a few too many glasses of champagne.

At the time of our visit, Versailles was hosting an exhibition of sculptor/artist Jeff Koons. According to the Chateau de Versailles official website, "Contemporary artistic creation makes possible a different perception of this living monument and its ever changing reality which is no way a fossilized model of a particular period." According to Thomas, "it was distracting." Granted a 300+ year-old palace is not the usual context one would expect to see a sculpture titled "Michael Jackson and Bubbles," but I felt that juxtaposing these somewhat "kitsch" creations against the backdrop of such classic architecture made it more impactful. Thomas - not so much. We spent most of the train ride home discussing it passionately. I argued that this was the longest Thomas had ever considered/discussed art in his entire life which in my opinion made the installation a success. Thomas argued that that the Guggenheim had called and wanted its livelihood back. I think it was the vacuums that really pushed him over the edge...

Food of course was an adventure. We had a great Fondue in Mouffetard, several really good meals in cafes near our hotel, and more street crepes than required. Oh yes, and how could I forget this highlight - they serve Nutella on crepes! Clearly the culinary distinction of France is well-deserved.

Because food is so much a part of the Paris experience, we found ourselves paralyzed a few times. After having a wonderful Parisian breakfast at a cafe we serendipitously found, we were determined to duplicate the experience the next morning. We walked around the artsy district of Montparnasse (of which Jean Cocteau once said "poverty is a luxury in Montparnasse") for over an hour without finding a place that we thought "looked good." A bit on the rough and tumble/touristy side, Montparnasse hosts sex-shops side by side with funky artisan boutiques. But we just didn't get the right food vibe. So instead of breakfast we ended up going without food until after lunch when we finally succumbed in Mouffetard with an "it's either this place or that place" approach. Hunger had obliterated the need for memorable.

And is Paris truly for lovers? Judging by the meal we ate sandwiched between two young lovebirds who followed EVERY bite with kisses and baby talk (understandable and annoying even in lovely French) and an older couple who graciously limited their public display of the kiss for which France is renowned to the lull between courses, I'd have to say yes. What does it say about us that we were more interested in sopping up every last drop of savory sauce with crusty bread than gazing lovingly into each others eyes and stealing kisses? I can't decide who said it better George Bernard Shaw, "there is no love sincerer than the love of food," or Rodney Dangerfield, "I'm at an age where food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact, I just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Bring on le dessert, s'il vous plait.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Snow Day in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Munich was graced with its first snowfall on Friday. Despite reports of 12+ inches we only got an inch or two. Some southern areas were hit harder so on Sunday morning we set out in search of snow and landed in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. G-P was the sight of the 1936 Winter Olympic games and true to its heritage it did not disappoint the snow hungry. In the winter it is a haven for skiers while in the summer the hikers swarm in. Somewhat of a destination resort, the cobblestone streets are lined with chalet hotels, upscale shops, cafes and restaurants.

On the way home from G-P we stopped at the Benedictine Ettal Abbey. Founded in 1330, the working Monastery still houses about 50 monks who maintain a brewery, hotel, cheese making enterprise and small publishing business. There is also a private high school on the premises. You can learn more about the Abbey here. The compound, set against a backdrop of snow covered alps, was breathtaking. The stillness of fresh snow and our solo presence enhanced the spiritual mood all the more.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Neuschwanstein Day Hike

On Sunday Thomas and I decided to head south and do a strenuous hike whose reward was amazing views of Neuschwanstein. Most Americans will recognize the castle as the inspiration behind the Disney castles.

View of Neuschwanstein (wikipedia) Disney castle (wikipedia)

Before you get too excited, this is as close as we got... A view from the road as we drove to the hike entry point.

Somehow, we made an error trailblazing and never did get to the side of the alp with amazing views. Typical for us. We have a compass, we have a portable gps, we have the ubercool gps watch/heart moniter thingy. Where were they? Ummm, yeah at home. With the sunblock. And the extra layer of clothing for the freezing temperatures we encountered at the top.

We hiked up - straight up - 2,000m. It was the most challenging hike I've done in years. Stairs were not my friend for the next two days. And what was our reward for reaching the top?? Even better than an amazing view of Neuschwanstein - we saw this!!!!!!

And this...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Electra Visits the Viktualienmarkt

Viktualienmarkt Stand

Thomas and I have gotten into the habit or taking our bikes into town on Saturday morning for a Milch Kaffee and a fresh pastry or pretzel. Usually we just go into the thriving metropolis of BFMF and combine our caffeine kick with a few other errands - post office, bank, green grocer.

Last Saturday we decided to take our bikes into Munich proper for our weekend ritual. We wanted to see how long it would take to bike into the city center and we needed to pick up a few things in some of the shops. Forty-five minutes later we were locking up our bikes and assessing our cafe options.

I've been into the city center about twice a week since I've been here. It's a short 15 minute ride on the S-bahn so it's easy to meet friends or just go in to pick up some hard to find grocery items. Thomas, because he clings to the questionable belief that at least one of us should be working (thank god), has been exactly twice. So it was nice to be there together for once and have the chance to stroll around before the crowds descended.

One of my favorite "must sees" in Munich is the Viktualienmarkt. This open air market has been around for over 200 years offering fresh fruits and vegetables, spices, oils, soaps, specialty foods and of course sausage and cheese. It's not unusual to see someone enjoying a weisswurst and beer at 9:30 in the morning. Not a taste I've acquired yet. I'll save that food adventure for when my father visits. Which brings me to...

The Tale of the Rollmop
Most girls try to win their father's affection with fairly standard fare - good grades, sweet Polly Purebread impersonations, chastity belts. I try to win my father's affection with food. And yes, I realize this should probably be discussed in therapy but that costs money and blogging is free. When I was young it was liver and onions. "Good iron," my father said. "Good God NO!" my stomach said. But I ate it because nobody else in the family would and I thought all that iron would surely morph into a halo around my head. Come to find out years later that the butter and bacon it was drenched in were more likely to clog my arteries. But I ate it. And I seem to recall actually almost sorta kinda liking it. Today the mere thought of eating liver makes me want to subsist on carrots for the rest of my days. I mean really this is an animal's LIVER! Livers are things which you donate. You don't eat them.

But no foul food experience (and there is a horse meat stew incident in the archives) compared to the rollmop incident. One day, while my brother and I were visiting my parents, my father pulled from the refrigerator something we just "had to try." He'd stopped at a small German deli for some sandwich fixings and made the happy chance epicurean discovery of rollmops.
From Wikipedia: A rollmop is a pickled herring fillet rolled (hence the name) into a cylindrical shape around a piece of pickled gherkin. Rollmops grew popular throughout Germany during the early 19th century. The fish was pickled to preserve it and transported in wooden barrels. In pubs in Old Berlin, it was common to have high-rising glass display cases (Hungerturm, meaning "hunger tower") on the bar to present ready-to-eat dishes like lard bread, salt eggs, meatballs, mettwurst (bacon sausage) and of course rollmops. At the present time, rollmops are commonly served as part of the German Katerfrühstück (hangover breakfast) which is believed to restore some electrolytes and makes breasts larger.
Anybody hungry?
My brother said no dice right away. I hedged - my internal dialogue probably being something along the lines of, "If I eat this Dad will love me more than he loves Neal. I'll never be able to usurp "the baby" from Mom's pedestal but I still have a shot at Dad." Dare I mention I was in my mid-thirties at the time? Right, going to arrange appointment with therapist...

It's quite possible that my father taunted me. "Come on, don't be such a wuss. Try it." So I did. How shall I describe? Vile? Vicious? No, the clear winner was Vomitous. No sooner than it was down it came back up to reintroduce itself in all its smelly, slimy disgustingness. And it continued to make guest appearances for the next two days. When I hear the word "rollmop" now my stomach immediately clenches and I start to gag. Pavlov in one easy step.

I'm not sure how a posting about the Viktualienmarkt ended up being a soul-baring Electra complex expose... oh, right that was it... They sell rollmops at the Viktualienmarkt. I for one will not be eating them even if they give me Pamela Anderson (a vegan by the way who does not eat LIVER) breasts. The weisswurst I'll consider if Daddy dares me.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Road Trip - Destination Salzburg

Salzburg Rooftops

We decided to take a little road trip on Saturday. To Austria. Doesn't that just sound sooo European? A tiny little day trip - to another country??!! I'm really getting my Julie Andrews on these days. First hiking the alps and then visiting the city of fair Maria and die Familia VonTrapp. Unbelievably, Thomas has never seen the movie so he has no idea why I keep belting out songs in town squares. La - a note to follow... So, we hit the road around nine and were in Salzburg around 11. Hard to beat.

We did the requisite trip to the Fortress HohenSalzburg where I had one of those "duh" moments while reading a museum placard. Salzburg literally means "Salt Castle" so named because of the Salzach river on which the town was settled and along which ships transported - duh - salt. We also did the standard stop and gawk outside the house where Mozart was born.

The rest of the time we spent wandering through the narrow cobblestone streets, peeking in (or more accurately) drooling over the ship windows. The amount of chocolate condensed into the old city is both belly bursting and mind blowing. Thomas unexpectedly, and quite unconvincingly, professed a great love for all things operatic the moment he saw the Mozart chocolate store. I think I could have gotten him to agree to season tickets for The Met in exchange for Eine Kleine Chocolate Box. Unfortunately, he's on a one month chocolate moratorium so he had to settle instead for a Wurst in a cozy Austrian eatery.

On the way home we stopped to poke around in several small towns one of which had a family run restaurant that just happened to be serving home-made warm apple strudel with fresh whipped cream. And that leads us to our...

German Lesson for the Day
Those of you who know my limited German skills know I have a fondness for making up new German words to suit a situation. For instance, a nap is a Knipper. A snack is a Geschnibble. And warm apple strudel is Schmecklich. Geschmack being the German word for "taste." Schmecklich being the Alexia word for tasty. Used in a sentence - Warmes Apfelstrudel is sehr, sehr schmecklich.
Note: schmecklich can also be used to describe German soccer player Michael Ballack.
End of Lesson

On the way home we stopped a Chiemsee to watch the sunset. All in all a perfect road trip.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Seehaus Biergarten

View to the Seehaus from across the lake

What's one to do on a sunny Sunday with the whole day stretched ahead of you? Waste the day away in a Biergarten. Obviously. And that's just what we did. Nestled in the heart of the English Garden, the Seehaus Biergarten is theeee place to be seen. And you better get there early if you want a seat. Which, fortunately, we did. Giant pretzels, giant beers and great people watching. Really, what more can you ask for?

Water, water everywhere and lots of beer to drink

Jamaica does Munich

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Auer-Dult Market

I spent last Saturday rummaging around one of Munich's oldest markets Auer-Dult. With a history tracing back to the Middle Ages, the market has morphed into part fair/ part flea market. It only happens three times a year so they try to pack in as much as possible. You can find everything from a Biergarten to a ferris wheel to wool socks to antique buttons. There are vendors selling vintage goods that run the gamut from pure kitsch to once in a lifetime finds. This is nicely balanced by vendors selling new kitchenware, pots, pans and my personal favorite the "BursteMann" or Brush Man. You would not believe the assortment of hair brushes, brooms, veggie scrubbers, bottle brushes this man purveyed. If it had a bristle on it - he had it. I just think it would be so cool to sit in a bar and when asked the inevitable question of "what do you do?" reply with a straight face, "I'm a BursteMann."

Treasure or trash?

My favorite stall. Vintage kitchen stuff merchandised perfectly.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Seventh Swan Sob Song

As I was out partaking in my daily constitutional yesterday, I scrutinized the sights and the sounds of the lake as is my wont. Our lake is inhabited by a huge goose population, a colony of ducks and six beautiful swans. Swans, as all girls who have weathered the love-lorn teen years know, mate for life. Our lake swans carve out separate areas of the lake for themselves careful to maintain a suitable distance from other couples. And even though the male and female can be quite a distance apart at times, it is always easily discernible who is with whom.

Except yesterday. Yesterday there was one swan who seemed to always be alone, drifting in the middle of the lake. It was so unusual that I stopped and did a pairing up of couples. Two. Four. Six. And Seven. The swan did not have a partner.

Maybe it was the overcast day, maybe it was the first hint of homesickness, but I was so touched by that lone swan. I created this whole story in my head about how he had lost his beloved life companion one crisp fall night when she unknowingly swallowed a plastic six pack tab some hooligans had tossed into the water (recycle people!). All this poor swan wanted, nay desperately needed, was a compassionate ear to help hold his pain. The other swans ignored him and the ducks wanted nothing to do with him. Not even the uncool Emo ducks who hang out on the fringe of the lake where they probably smoke reed all day. Futilely the lone swan would swim toward a group of ducks only to have them turn tail and paddle off in another direction. Again and again. It was heartbreaking. Simply heartbreaking. I worried about the cold weather approaching. Who would keep him warm at night? Could I make a nest out of an old wool blanket and nestle it in some bushes? Can you get more teen-motional than that? I nearly cried I tell you.

When Thomas got home I shared the sad plight of the Seventh Swan with him and then I did something really pathetic: I told him that I was that Seventh Swan. We were as one. Floating alone in a lake full of people who ignore us. Surrounded by ducks who don't speak our language. Without family. Without friends. Facing a long, lonely winter ahead. Yeah, so then Thomas pretty much felt like crap too. That kind of made me feel better.

I went to the lake today to check on my Soulmate Swan and imagine my surprise when I counted TEN - yes ten swans. Divide by five and you get TWO. Every swan had a partner! So now I figure the real story probably went something like this. Big Swan Partner Swap this weekend. Maybe Sienna Miller isn't the only one who thinks monogamy is over-rated. Really, shouldn't swans be able to give in to their animal instincts once in a while? And now I think the Swinger Seventh Swan got into town a few days early so he could get a head start on scoping out the other bloke's birds. Pig.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Absentee Ballot

Just got back from walking my absentee ballot to the post office. It cost me $5 Euro to mail! Maybe I should use my tax relief check to fund the postage. You gotta' give to get. Uneventful except that the woman serving me turned to her co-worker and said "New Jersey is in England right? I should post to England?" Thankfully my German was good enough to understand and correct her that it should be posted to the US not the UK. My German was NOT good enough to understand when she asked me if I wanted a receipt. Twice. Baby steps.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Trabi Trip in Dresden

Thomas and I spent the weekend in Pirna/Dresden visiting with his parents. Dresden (pictured in the blog header) is simply beautiful. I am awed every time I visit. First that such beautiful architecture was conceived then built by human hearts, minds and hands. Second, that anyone could destroy such beauty. And third, that it is being so painstakingly restored in a world that increasingly seems to only value what is new. I'm already excited to go back in December to visit the oldest Christmas market in Germany.

It was a quiet weekend filled with lots of Mom's home cooking - sauerbraten, schnitzel, and cakes (multiple). We had a nice bike ride and a short wander with an amazing view of the Elbe to help burn off the calories.

Fall Leaves

Lookout Point

View of the River Elbe

For my last birthday, Thomas' parents gave me a gift certificate for a city tour in a Trabant, an German automobile that I have a sweet spot for. It's sort of the quintessential DDR car that enjoyed up to an 8 year waiting list (take that MINI) in its heyday. After waiting that long for a car, people never got rid of them often driving them for 20 years or more. As a result it's still quite common to see them on the roads today. Thomas' first car was a Trabi. I think he bought it for 100DM and a case of beer. While it's hard to imagine Thomas in any vehicle that can barely go 60 miles an hour I guess he had to start somewhere.

I wussed on getting behind the wheel (gear shift on steering column, clutch pedal the size of a bar of soap) but Thomas was only too happy to jump in the driver's seat and take a walk down memory lane. The tour wound through the city with the guide's voice crackling through the radio pointing out historical landmarks. It reminded me thoroughly of driving in my father's Karmann Ghia as a child. Thankfully, we didn't have to get out an push this one. The best part was watching the people's faces as a stream of Trabis passed by. Certainly a much smaller scale than MINI Takes the States but the same smiles, waves and stares.

Trabi Happy

Thomas' First Love

Trabi Roaming The Streets of Dresden

Monday, October 6, 2008

Step Away From the Nutella

One of my goals before I arrived was to get back in shape. The three months living in temporary housing prior to our departure meant living with the bare necessities, lots of dining out and a few extra pounds that found their way into my saddlebags not my check-in bags.

I was doing okay. Alternating yoga with walking around the lake by our place. Lots of salads and whole grains. And then IT happened. Our home was invaded by a jar of Nutella. Bought with the good intentions of treating a guest to her favorite breakfast spread, the sweet hazelnut concoction quickly became a bad nightmare. Now, I've never been one to harbor a chocolate addiction and I've had Nutella on several past occasions without incurring disastrous results but there was something different about this jar. This jar talked!

Every single time I went into the kitchen it would start in on me. "Alexia, why are you ignoring me? I miss you. I won't hurt you - I promise. If you skip the bread it's really not that many calories. Just one spoonful. A small spoonful. Pleeeeez?" I was defenseless against this thing. I've had a spoon dangling out of my mouth ever since.

Anyway, you know how when you make fun of someone mercilessly it always comes back to bite you in the butt? Well, my friend KMOH is an incredibly talented creative person, a small business entrepreneur and, despite the fact that she favors wearing house slippers to NY photo shoots during blizzard weather, I have a great deal of respect for her. Until the day she pulled out the pedometer.

Looking to get rid of a few extra pounds, she'd committed to walking 10,000 steps everyday. All well and good. But when every trip to the bathroom was followed with a step count "28 there and 30 back. I think the extra two steps were to the sink," it wasn't long before we were mocking her endlessly. "I need to get a refill on my coffee. If I take two giant steps and three baby steps does that count as 7 regular steps?" Or, "If I sprain my ankle and I'm on crutches, do I get to count three steps for every one?" You get the idea.

Well, guess who bought a pedometer? Yup. But in fairness to me, the last time I saw KMOH she looked awesome so I figured maybe there was something to it. Sign me up for the 10,000 step program. And may God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change - especially if it's my waistline. I finally sat down to program the pedometer and all was going well. You have to put in your height, weight, age, etc. All standard, no surprises. Then I got to the body fat analyzer. You have to hold your thumbs at contact points on the pedometer and then it assigns an icon to your profile.

There are five icons ranging from a stick figure up to a big round blob. I'm thinking I'm going to hit icon 3 which is metz a metz. Ummm no. Up pops the little fatso icon. I'm thinking are you kidding me? It's not that bad. Is it?? Curses on Nutella and all gooey sugar substances everywhere. Oh, and while I'm at it, those warm Bavarian pretzels too.

I quickly scan the directions again. It says to get better results I should lick my thumb pads before making contact with the analyzer. I stick both thumbs in my mouth entirely and quickly go to the loo because it never hurts to get rid of a little water weight. Back from the bathroom (12 steps in case you were wondering) and now with fully wet hands, I throw back my shoulders, hold my breath and try again. No luck. I am icon five. I am Beachball Pinhead.

Beachball Pinhead at Lake - note Oktoberfest Beer

I am so depressed. The only thing that can possibly make me feel better is... Wait did you hear that? There it is again. Louder this time. Can you not hear that??

As soon as I get the spoon out of my mouth, I'll go for a lap around the lake. Okay, okay four laps. That's 9,865 steps in case you were wondering.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Buchstein and Kaiserschmarrn

Last Sunday was beautiful so Thomas, his twin brother Steffen and I drove to Tagernsee to hike a small alp called Buchstein. I asked Thomas before we left the house if I should pack lunches for us and his response was, "No, it's not like it is in the States." Whatever that means...

What that means is at the top of most of the popular hiking trails there will be a Gasthaus that serves warm meals and cold beer. Our mountain did not disappoint with a "hutte" straight out of the Sound of Music.
While I was busy spinning in circles doing my best Julie Andrews impression, Thomas was busy ordering the most decadent dessert on the menu - Kaiserschmarrn.

Kaiserschmarrn or "the Emperor's mishmash" is a caramelized pancake that is split into pieces while frying, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and served hot with applesauce on the side. It is beyond delicious. Had I known that it was waiting at the top when we started the hike, I would have considered (albeit briefly) running to the top. Run up. Roll down. The recipe follows. Plan your penance before consuming.

1/4 cup rum
1 cup whole milk
5 eggs
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
applesauce for serving

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, beat together the milk, eggs, white sugar, vanilla, and salt. Gradually whisk in the flour to make a smooth batter.
  2. In a large skillet melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Pour the batter into the skillet and cook 5 to 6 minutes, or until the pancake has set and the bottom is golden brown. Turn over the pancake and cook 3 minutes, or until this side is also golden brown. Using a spatula or two forks, tear the pancake into bite-size pieces. Drizzle in the melted butter and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Turn up the heat to medium high and use a spatula to gently toss the pieces for 5 minutes, or until the sugar has caramelized. Sprinkle with additional confectioners' sugar and serve with apple sauce.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Blog, A Blog, My Homeland For a Blog!

It has taken me well over three hours to create this most simplest of blogs. A task multiple people assured me would take all of five minutes. But how, I ask, do you select a font that conveys your inner essence when you only have six to choose from? How is one to decide whether side bars are bold-worthy or if that distinction should be reserved for links?? It is gray outside today with threatening rain which may have influenced my background color choice. I hope I don't regret this torturous decision when the sun reappears.

As I've take the better part of three weeks to get up and running on this blog, I'll give a brief update of how I've spent my time to date.

Week One: Unpacking and organizing. Multiple trips to IKEA. TK scratching his head when he returned home each evening to find the place looking far worse than when he left in the morning. I kept telling him that I had "a process". I never quite figured out what that process was and I'm pretty sure he didn't buy my bluff.

Week Two: More organizing. Laundry! I had to take pictures of all the settings then download the pictures to my computer and babelfish the translations. Then I had to convert the Celsius water temperatures to Fahrenheit. While TK has showed me the most important settings, I'm not quite sure I trust his laundry prowess. This is a man who two weeks ago decided to dry our still damp sheets by draping them over our mahogany stained dining room chairs. Thankfully German washing machines have a super duper hot setting (90 Celsius 194 Fahrenheit!). All survived the incident including TK. Julika has provided a helpful translation between Trocken (dry) and Schranktrocken (closet dry) but really what does that mean? And how much can I possibly care? Am I evil for missing my American setting of Overdry Energy Waster?

Week Three: Wondering if all I really accomplished in week two was laundry?? I can feel the impending doom of this blog breathing down my neck already.

Our friend Trudy had a business trip layover last Saturday and we decided to make the most of the time with a visit to Oktoberfest or Wiesn as the natives call it. We were rewarded richly within five minutes of entering by witnessing a drunk getting tossed from a beer tent - one security guard for each limb on the ole' heave ho.
Steffen, Trudy and Thomas at the U-bahn

While we did experience the full spectrum of dirndls and drunks, we ourselves did not indulge in das Bier. All the tents were overcrowded so they weren't letting anyone else in. Thomas and I tried to go back again last night thinking mid-week might be less crowded but we were forewarned that it was just as crowded. I may have underestimated how big a deal this is.

Tonight we go to our mutual friend Gordon's house for dinner. He is here in Germany on an expat assignment that will end within the next few months. TK and I spent last night rehearsing how I can distract our hosts while he whips out the tape measure and determines what of their possessions we can place low ball offers on. This couch is so comfortable - are you planning on taking it home with you? You know, I'd really love another cup of coffee. Would you mind terribly brewing a fresh pot? I do so hate stale coffee. Quick, honey, the coffee table, measure the coffee table!!