Tuesday, December 29, 2009

a quick note before the year is through

2009 will be ending in two days.

I feel that the least I can do is to make public to the world (wide web)my gratitude for all the beautiful experiences and people who made up the last 363 days of my life.

Thank you America and Germany for a wonderful year...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December and all its glory... so far

So I haven't updated my blog since the Thanksgiving turkey attempt about two weeks ago.

My apologies.

Its the wee hours of the morning here in Germany, 1:28 am on December 16th, 2009--which means that in some parts of the world, it is still my birthday... America for example. The 23rd celebration of my date of birth here in Deutschland was calm and uneventful, but pleasant. I worked from 8:30-4:00 teaching English lessons and then in the evening came home to a nice cake and a couple surprises including some American brownies (!) and Twizzlers (!) and SwissMiss Hot Chocolate, all rare and precious booty here in Germany.

I'm not sleeping because every attempt to swallow is followed by a searing, stinging punishment that accompanies sore throats. I hope, really really hope, it gets better soon (as in like the next twelve hours soon)--as I still have two more full days of teaching this week in addition to Christkindlmarkt work on the weekend...

Speaking of work, ever seem to notice that when one gets busy--one gets really busy? That's what December turned out to be so far for me. I wanted a little extra work and what I got was a whole boat load delivered right to the front door. As with most of the work I've found and have done in the last couple of years, its all temporary short-term stuff, and so I feel I have to suck it up and do as much as I can while I have the opportunity. I should also mention here, that I really enjoy the work that I do... teaching English has really turned out to be much more than grammar, as I initially thought. Its about sharing culture--teaching one and learning another--breaking down and discovering some of the very things that are engrained into us from a young age-- for example, language and behavior which reflects the values of a nation or region and its people. Its all about communication, baby.

Anyways, to keep the ramblings of an american in deutschland short, I will end by saying that I promise to post some photos of Nuremberg during the Christmas season soon--before all the tourists, gluhwein, lebkuchen and chaos disappear.

Until then, here's a countdown of life for the next couple of weeks:

23rd Birthday --> -1 days

End of Work/Christkindlmarkt & Christmas Eve --> 9 days

Christmas Day --> 10 days

4th Anniversary --> 14 days

2010 --> 17 days

Berlin :) --> 19 days

So until next time.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A German Thanksgiving

Yesterday I cooked my very first Thanksgiving turkey. We named him Tod.

My wonderful assistant.

Four hours later, we were ready to devour him. I'll admit this picture may not be his most flattering side--but he turned out a lot better than I expected.

The end (of Tod).

Happy Thanksgiving and a Happy start to December! :)


Thursday, November 26, 2009

I've worked the malls at Christmas in the US--now I thought I'd give the old world version a go. As of Monday--I am an official "kiosk" worker of the Christkindlmarkt in Nuremberg.

Let the mad rush of holiday shopping begin! :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunset on the Pegnitz

This evening, I have discovered, once more, that each night as I have sat in front of my computer and whittled away the hours writing, Facebooking, surfing the web, preparing lessons, studying—whatever it was that called my attention to the screen—I was missing out on the most spectacular light show on the planet, just outside my window, free of cost.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

the exquisite tastes of America...

Who says America doesn't have anything to offer the taste pallet? Check out what fine cuisine the stars and stripes have supplied the shelves in the German supermarkets with...

*despite being some of the finest bakers in Europe, the Germans even save some shelf room for good ol' American muffins and chocolate chip cookies*

*can't forget our sauces--especially hamburger sauce--whatever that is*

*Germans are the masters of the sausage world, yet they honor our country and our president (Truman) with a sausage-in-a-jar product called "American Style Hot Dogs"*

*it's a little blurry, but on this marshmallow bag they have a motorcyclist with a banner reading "Easy Rider", and on the side it reads "The American Way of Life"*

*and look who I found, Ms. Lady Liberty herself hanging out on a Cola gummi bag*

Germans even love walking on our president--check it out *bama footwear-- "Like walking barefoot!"

So next time someone comments crudely on America's lack of culture and cuisine, you tell them that just isn't so.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Deutsch 101

I think the German language is full of really great words.

For example:

Elbogen --> a way cooler way to say "elbow"

Kuhlschrank --> "refrigerator" which literally translates to "cool cabinet"

Kopfkissen --> means "pillow", kopf = head and kisser= well, it means what it means in English, therefore: "head kisser" (although küssen is the actual word for 'to kiss in German'--but close enough ;)

And another thing--the German language loves to combine words. We use compound words in English, ex: dog + house = doghouse, however, German takes it to a whole new level.

The following is an example of one of the longest German words in use today:


Made up of 42 letters, the Germans decided to give their space bar a break and instead combine several words to create a single word that would translate to "Danube steamship company captain" in English.

Or how about this one?


Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is a word--coming in at a mere 63 letters, it is made up of ten different words, and twenty syllables--and its meaning has to do with a law used for British beef imports during the 'mad cow disease' scare.

As Mark Twain once said, "Some German words are so long that they have a perspective."

I can see why.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

for the love of lebkuchen....

Christmas is clearly on its way.

Lauf and Nuremberg have already begun putting up garland and lights and angels and stars along the streets and in the marketplace. The stores have been stocked with Christmas chocolates and foods with St. Nick packaging since the middle of October. And Nuremberg is literally consumed with Lebkuchen stands and stores selling the stuff.

The countdown until the opening of the Christkindlmarkt here in Nuremberg has begun. The opening day is on the 27th of November (!)...

Halloween came and went here in Germany without much notice. That night, I saw a total of six trick or treaters, and three of the six were some sort of lady vampire. When the costumed-kids came to our door, the Hallers had no candy, so Mr. Haller sent me to the door with a bag of sour gummi worms. One bag... which I didn't know how to split amongst three kids and so, I ended up giving it to the kid with the one-eyed dead man mask. Needless to say, the two vampires weren't very happy. I wanted to tell the boy he had to share with them, but I didn't know how to in German. (So to the two German vampire girls, if you are reading this, I want you to know I apologize whole heartedly. If you come back next year, I promise to have enough candy for each of you.)

Not having a Halloween this year wasn't much of a disappointment really, as I stopped Trick or Treating in the 6th grade. Its having to go without Thanksgiving that I'm sad about. I think I will try to replicate it here... somehow. Even though there will be no Macy's Day Parade to wake up to, no school to have a holiday from, no pumpkin pie (!) :(--regardless, there is still lots to look forward to as the holidays approach, no matter which holidays you celebrate or how you celebrate them. Not just for me, for everyone... :)

(Well almost everyone.)

So let the countdown begin! :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New Discoveries

I've just discovered two fantastic things this week in Germany and I'd like to share them with you.

The first is Schnappi Das Kleine Krokodil...


The Schnappi song reached number 1 in Germany in January of 2005. I can't get this cute song out of my head. :)

The other thing I recently discovered is the Amerika-Haus in Nuremberg which has a library with over 9,000 English books and media sources (including current DVDs, magazines, newspapers, etc). I am really really excited that I found this place (totally by accident) and now have access to much more material to read in my native language. In addition, the Deutsch-Amerikanisches Institut also host American and German cultural events, lectures and discussions.

Yah for cultural exchange institutions, and for helping me to feel a little bit more at home in Nuremberg.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Case of the Missing S-Bahn

Today after work, I was waiting on the platform in Mögeldorf, waiting for the S bahn to take me back to Lauf, when lo and behold it never shows.

Some woman's voice comes over the loud speaker and says in a very polite German way, "Blah blah blah (German I can't understand)... nach Lauf... blah blah blah... bau arbeit.... blah... vielen dank."

Of course not understanding the majority of the announcement, I keep waiting, thinking it was probably just saying the train is running late. I wait and wait... and soon another announcement comes on saying the same thing, only this time "nach Nuremberg"... and all of a sudden, the somewhat crowded platform full of Germans, young and old, start grumbling loudly, and all disappear down the steps.

Now I'm alone on the platform with one old man who keeps talking to himself and saying something like "I'm not from Germany. I'm not from Germany.", a teenage boy who had fallen asleep on the bench listening to his mp3 player, and a woman with curly blond hair who was trying to read the train schedule.

Of course, now the butterflies in my stomach are starting to flutter, because I want to ask her a question and either a) I have to ask if she speaks English and if she says no, walk away shamefully or b) try to formulate my question in German. I decide to attempt the latter... so I step forward and say in my most convincing German accent, "Entchuldigung, Warten Sie fur der Zug nach Lauf oder Nürnberg?"

When we figured out that the train wasn't coming, we went to go find a bus, and then in the end waited at the bus stop, in the cold, eating Leibniz Keks mit Dunkel Schokolade, for her husband to come pick us up.

She didn't speak English, I spoke broken German, but somehow we managed. Of course I didn't understand everything, and I certainly couldn't speak in such fabulously constructed German sentences but we managed to communicate well enough, that I got to know where she was from, what she does for a living, about her family, where she goes on vacation every year, etc. etc. I could tell her why I was here and where I was working and the likes. It was such a liberating feeling to be able to communicate my thoughts to her... and for her to understand. Breakthrough. At last.

After her husband dropped me off in the parkplatz in Lauf and I walked the five minutes back home, I felt incredibly proud of myself... I managed to survive a very awkward and uncomfortable situation (no train & no way home) all on my very own, in a new language.

(pat on back to self)

Anyways, this is the last week of October. I seriously feel like I just wrote an entry saying it was the last week of September. Despite how fast time is going, I'm enjoying my life here in Nuremberg.

So to all my blog followers and readers, until next time, take care.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Oktober Happenings

So this week will be my 4 month anniversary since I've arrived here in Germany. Time is really flying quickly, because four months equals 1/3 of a year, and I definitely don't feel like I've been here in Germany for a 1/3 of the year of 2009. I was working and I was sick for a total of about 10 weeks, that's true, but there were so many other days that just seemed to pass by that I can't even remember.

I started my German class about two weeks ago. The class is filled with people from the US, from Portugal, Kenya, Russia, Japan, Ukraine, Poland, etc. etc... all trying to learn German. I like the class in some ways... although to be honest at times, its not the foremost place I'd rather be, but it does give me a chance to focus on learning the language in an environment where I can feel safe to make mistakes. Maybe one of these days I'll attempt to write a blog all in German and see how that goes. But in all seriousness, one of my most favorite ways to practice German (other than speaking with David of course :) is by reading kids' books. The vocabulary is (usually) simpler and the pictures make it more entertaining, as well as greatly assisting me in figuring out what the text says. My favorite books? Olivia.

Also, as of last week friday, I am officially employed here in Germany. (celebratory fireworks sound off here)... The craziest part about it, was that I was hired by two different companies within a matter of hours. I had an interview at 2:30 meeting with one language school, to teach business English to one client. I go--and basically they agree I can do the job--and then within the same hour--I get a call from another guy, who I assume is from the same school, asking if I can in fact start teaching already the next day, on Saturday, because they just found out that one teacher got stuck in the US, and won't return in time for the lessons. He asks if we can meet in Starbucks, I say okay, and at 4:30, I find myself in an overcrowded coffee shop in the Hauptmarkt, trying to find a "six foot tall, blond haired, blue eyed" man (as he described himself)...in Germany.

After we spot each other, we sit down and he asks me to tell him a little bit more about my experience teaching English. I find this odd, as we have, I thought, had several phone conversations already and I had explained all of this to him. I show him the folder and papers from the school I just came from, telling him I was just at the office in Nuremberg already today. After about twenty-minutes of talking, I realize that perhaps this isn't an employee from the same school... in fact is completely not related at all, and so have to confess embarrasingly that I don't even know his name or which school he is interviewing me for.

Luckily he didn't seem offended and laughed it off--and then offered me to teach two more clients that he needed English teachers for.

So after searching for weeks and weeks and applying to a plethora of schools and jobs, within a matter of hours, on a cold and rainy October Friday, I was hired by two schools to teach three different clients, for a total of seven lessons a week. A coincidence, a helping hand from above, or destiny--however you want to look at it, sometimes things happen and you don't know why.

I have only done one lesson so far, and tomorrow I have another, but I think I'll like it. And I'm excited. And happy to finally have a job! Wooo. Just needed to share that with the world wide web.

Other than that... I just want to share that tomorrow is my little brother's birthday. He's turning 13. A teenager. (gulp)... :P HAPPY BIRTHDAY NATHAN.

Machts gut und viel spaß... until next time.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


It's snowing in Germany...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

total insomniac...

So I can't sleep. It is 1:22 am, and I find myself tired, but without any hope to actually shut my eyes and fall into any sort of slumber. The house I am currently in is very full, and I don't have many options of where to go and what to do. Thankfully I have access to a computer. After wasting more time than I care to admit on Facebook, I thought I'd update the blog.

These days I'm trying to "be productive". What does that even mean? Well for me, I'm trying to read much and write often while I apply to as many jobs that I can that seem suitable to my interests and abilities. Each night before I go to sleep, I tell myself "Tomorrow, I will be productive." Each morning when I awake, I say "Today I will be productive." And while I am putting effort in to reach this goal, I still find myself feeling disatisfied--like somehow I could have done more each day.

Today, I went out in search of ingredients to make pumpkin bread. I love all things pumpkin related, and so I was really looking forward to making this for David and his family. I had to walk a little further outside of Lauf's marktplatz to go to the bigger supermarket, as I had already searched a smaller store, with no luck of finding the most important ingredient (pumpkin!). I get there and start wandering around to try and find the things on my list. Searching searching all over the place, as 1) I'm not really familiar with the store and 2) I have to try to search for ingredients with foreign names. After a good twenty minutes, I find the mehl (flour), I find the muskatnuss (nutmeg), I find the sultanis (raisins)--then I go in search for my final missing ingredient--canned kürbis (pumpkin). I look through all the canned foods I can find, and while the German supermarket is stocked up on canned peaches, mangoes, apple, maracuja, and yes, even canned sausages... they didn't have a single can of pumpkin. :( ... so instead I went and bought some marshmallows and some rice krispies and opted to make rice krispie treats instead.

Tomorrow (or today really) I will go into Nuremberg and perhaps I will have better luck there finding my beloved pumpkin.

I am three minutes away from entering the 2 o'clock hour. I think I will give sleep another chance, but before I do, thought I'd list some sites that I've found useful, in case you ever find yourself living in Germany and are in search of a job, apartment, insurance, or English-speaking friend... the following websites can assist you with just those things:

www.thelocal.de (good for job hunting and getting news happening in Germany in English, also list when and where to see movies in English (!))

www.toytowngermany.com (networking for and by English speaking expats in Germany)

www.kijiji.de &
www.markt.de (the German versions of craigslist, excellent flat-finding websites)

www.provisit.de (super duper useful in securing inexpensive yet mandatory health insurance for foreigners living in Europe for a year or more)

When I find more, I'll post them.

Until next time,

your American in Deutschland

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"From zero to hero..."

No matter which civilization, time period, or class of people you look to, you will find in existence a legend or story of a hero. Human beings have always been fascinated by the extraordinary, exceptional human being. The Greek poet Pindar, defined a hero as the offspring of a mortal and a god, or those who had done a great service to mankind. So in general every culture celebrates those who achieve or overcome the extraordinary.

A hero is not a hero without overcoming some major conflict or enemy. Conflict is a necessary element of fictional literature, but is also a part of everyday life. No human life exists without conflict, in whatever form it might take, either through a flat tire on the way to work, or a homeless man lacking food to eat, the struggle to overcome these obstacles results in what we call conflict. Those heroes we celebrate, challenge some form of nature (a beast, monster, wild animals, weather), another human being (in war or villain in everyday life), or they overcome or conquer something within themselves.

I was thinking about what kind of qualities make up a hero?

Bravery is one. Heroes are known to go where normal men are afraid to, and they seem to, at least in the stories, challenge death often.

Strength is another. One stereotypical image that comes to mind when thinking of a hero, is the monster slayer, with unhuman like strength such as Beowulf or Hercules. Strength however, does not always come in physical form, but very often through inner strength, or a strong belief that what they are fighting for is for a good or better cause.

Self-Discipline. There are those heroes that exemplify the search or journey to find something; the quest which usually allows them to find or defeat something in themselves first before they can battle outside forces. Gilgamesh, would fit into this category along with Buddha who conquered his innermost desires and urges that led him away from the path of enlightenment.

These heroes, although facing different external forces, all share one more internal characteristic as well. Besides strength and courage, another major qualification in heroes seems to be the principle of self-sacrifice. Many heroes seem to go beyond the call of duty to do things for others; saving villages, saving strangers, dying for the sake of humanity or for their people, putting themselves in situations that average men would avoid at all costs.

Heroes represent and give hope.

However, no matter how grand heroes may be, I think people don’t solely look to heroes for their perfection, but also for their weaknesses. Perhaps this may be why people are obsessed with celebrity gossip or just gossip in general, we want to know about the flaws of the people that are portrayed as perfect. We want to be reminded of the "human" qualities within. For superman, it was kryptonite and for Achilles, it was his heel. Even Jesus, who some believe is God, was tempted by the devil, according to the Bible. In very god-like characters, like the ones previously mentioned, a weakness must be invented or else no drama or story can exist, and truth be told, it would be just plain boring. Heroes, even though they almost always overcome their challenges, do not necessarily overcome them easily. And we want it that way.

We hold a soft spot in our hearts for those who overcome the odds, in whatever shape and form they may come in, from legends to everyday heroes who do even a little something beyond the call of duty. Every person in every society ever lived has picked up on the fact that there is evil in this world. The hero is the person who chooses to fight against that. No matter how minutely existing it may be, people believe in the ideal of the hero. They always have and they always will. We look for an example through these heroes and we try to see some small part of ourselves through them.

No matter if your hero is alive or dead, famous or not, man or woman, real or made up—we want to be like Superman, Batman, Hercules, Achilles, Jason, Gilgamesh, Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius, the saints, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. because we are all looking for something better to become. Even if you don't always believe that good always wins; heroes embody hope, and that is something everyone wants to believe in.

And as long as we want hope in our lives, we will always want heroes.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

new starts.

The majority of the month of September, I have spent inside of a house in a bed. First in San Marino and now in Germany. Its been almost three weeks that I've had this virus and while I am getting better slowly each day... the day my health will be fully restored to me still feels oh so far.

Having spent so much time "resting"--I've had a lot of time to think. Of course being sick is not something I'd wish upon myself or anyone else regularly, but at this point, I've come to embrace it as my chance for a brand new start. Another one. Ending University was a chance for a new start. Moving to Germany was another new start. Ending LeoLingo and now having this illness feels like some kind of major end--and I am ready to tackle, yet again, a new "new start".

Life is actually continuous--just one moment to the next, yet human beings need this idea of a new beginning. "Its a new day!" or "A New Year!"--all of them are a chance to kind of put everything behind you, all those failures and things you feel you should have or could have done better and give yourself another chance to become the kind of person you want to see yourself become or to do the things that you feel in your heart, are what really matter and what you really want to invest your time in. Most human beings, I think, don't believe that pain or suffering or misery lasts forever--and that's why new starts are so important to us. Its that hope that human beings carry that this time, things will be better.

October is coming soon. I think autumn in Germany will be really beautiful. I haven't properly been outside in quite sometime, but from the window in my room, there is a vine that hangs down and all the leaves on that vine are bright cranberry red. Its my source of inspiration, seeing this vine there, making me wish to get better so I can get a look at Germany as the leaves start to change.

--And as soon as I'm able to, I'm going to bake a pumpkin pie--nothing says autumn like pumpkin and nothing tastes quite so good like pumpkin pie.

Hope you all have a good end to September and great new start to October.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

a little rest and relaxation?

The Following Things Happened to Me When I was in Italy/San Marino:

- I went to Anna & Marco’s Wedding. It was beautiful.
- I ate more in the wedding reception than should ever be allowed for a human being to eat. Ever.
- I saw the sea near Rimini.
- I got to spend time with my good friends, the Gasperoni’s.
- I went to Urbino, where one of the oldest universities in Italy are.
- I lost all the photos on my camera somehow.
- They cannot be found.
- I started to feel sick on Tuesday.
- I felt even sicker on Wednesday.
- I had a high fever. It didn’t seem to want to go down.
- I went to the Emergency Room Friday evening.
- When the doctor lifted my shirt to check my stomach, she exclaimed, startled “My! You are so pale!”—as in not tan, like any Italian woman at this time in the year should be.
- I was told I might have Mono, but they are not sure. I need more tests.
- I spent the night with 7 other people crammed in a room on beds on wheels, being carted around when the doctors called.
- I spent the next X –number of days sleeping in Daniela’s room.
- I watched a number of documentaries, including one on Cleopatra, Gengis Khan and Albert Speer.
- I watched a number of Disney films.
- I ate a lot of melon.
- I drank a lot of aloe vera juice.
- I booked a flight home on Saturday, so to minimize travel time, and lo and behold when I got to the airport, the 1 ½ hour flight was delayed in Rimini for over 3 hours.
- I would have never imagined my time in Italy to have turned out as such.
- Such. Is. Life.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Aufwiedersehen August

Two more days until September.

September has such a different feel than August. The 'back to school' air, cooler days but still sunny skies, and an excitement that that differs from that of summer. This year, there will be no back to school for me, as now I am officially a college graduate. A couple of my friends back in NJ keep reminding me that school starts this week, which I find hard to believe because to me it seems like the summer just flew by, but a part of me doesn't believe that I. Am. Done. Even now after the whole Graduation thing, the whole diploma thing, the whole moving to Germany thing.

I will be signing up to take a German language course from the Volkhochschule for the end of September... so that'll be the extent of my classes for this "semester", but my main focus right now is trying to find a job. I say my main focus, but I actually haven't been focusing on it too much at all. LEOLingo has taken most of my attention and energy the last 5 weeks, but now with only one week left, I have to get myself moving on it. In all honesty, I guess I won't be too disappointed if I don't find work until perhaps beginning of October,which would give me some time to chill a bit and maybe travel some.

I had an "interview" of sorts yesterday with this guy named Jason, owner/creator of Nuremberg Tours in English. He invited me to come with him as he gave a tour of the Altstadt and the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds, and then to talk a bit after that. He was a really nice guy and although he couldn't offer anything regular or on a weekly basis, he said that if I learn the information for the tours, he might use me occasionally to give private tours. So while I still have to keep searching, I'm still excited by the possibility.

By this time next week, I will most definitely be in Italy. I am so so excited and looking forward to this well deserved and needed break at the completion of six full weeks of camp.

Sorry no pictures for today. I will definitely post some from Italy when I get back.

Until then. Viel Spaß.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

job hunting...

I can't escape it.

Somehow I thought finding a job in Germany would be a little less stressful than in the States, now that I'm an official college grad and all. But its equally so-- perhaps even a tad more.

I do realize that the fact that I don't speak German fluently (yet) severly hinders and limits the positions I have to apply for, but I thought finding a job to teach English wouldn't be too hard--and that teaching English this year would give me time to think about what I really want to do when I get back to the US sometime next year.

The problem has really been that I don't know where to even look. I've sent my resume to a couple of Language Schools in Nuremberg, but not more than two responded and they told me they aren't hiring. Several people have offered to "ask" someone they know to see if they are looking for an English teacher--but so far, I've got nothing.

I miss my craigslist...

This weekend went much too fast. Tomorrow starts another week of camp. Another set of German children for another five days. Work takes up the majority of my week, and yet I don't feel I have that much to say about it... is that normal? I'm not exactly dreading it--I only wish the weekend had more days in it. I have to try to use my weeknights more wisely. I don't want to spend each day wishing for the weekend.

Two weeks until Italy. (!)

No pictures to post this time.

Until next week. Viel Spaß.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Regensburg to Nuremberg

Its already been two weeks since I last posted (entchuldigung). I promised myself I'd keep this blog up, so we'll just have to jump ahead and skip the week in Regensburg. This past week I was in Nuremberg, which is also where I'll be working the next three weeks.

Tomorrow already starts a new week of singing about speckled frogs and Fred the Moose with 7 and 8 year old German kids. I'm getting into the swing of things working with LEOLingo--and while its exhausting working with kids, the days seem to fly by and once we reach lunch time around 12:30, it's only 3 1/2 hours until the kids go home. Only 3 more weeks of camp and 3 more weeks until I leave for Italy (San Marino) for Daniela's brother's wedding. (which I'm super excited about--my first real Italian wedding ^^!).

Anyways--not going to write much this entry, but here are some pictures of my kids from the last week.

until next time, viel spaß :)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Gloßner Bier and Tipping Canoes

So this past week I was in Neumarkt for the LEOLingo (Sprachcamp für Kinder) training. There were 16 of us from all over the English speaking world--and basically we had 2 1/2 days of theory training and then 5 half days of practical training working with kids from the Hauptschule and Grundschule.

In Neumarkt I stayed with Tini Gloßner and her 9 year old son Maxl. Tini's family are the owners of the Gloßner Bier Brewerie in Neumarkt producing (of course) beer and other drinks under the label of Neumarkter, including their new energy drink Moosebuefel (which reminded me of Red Bull, but better) and so my room was stocked each day with different kinds of drinks to try.

Their family has been in beer brewing business for 14 generations--and if you look at the side of the brewerie, they have the names of all their ancestors who worked there going back on a huge mural size family tree. Tini is also the owner of a mother-child clothing shop called Engel & Bengel in downtown Neumarkt. I think I got lucky with my host family, they were really interesting people...

LEOLingo arranged a lot of different activities for us each night including Bavaria Night, canoeing on the Altmuhlsee (which ended with me and three other girls not being able to control the boat and therefore hitting a tree and capsizing into the waist-high river), and so on and so forth. Overall while it was a really fun week, it was pretty exhausting. We did get the weekend off, although it went pretty fast because in only a couple of hours, I'll be catching a train to Regensburg for the next week of camp. Regensburg is supposedly THE university town and its also nicknamed the northernmost part of Italy, because of all its cafes and bars. So from what I've heard, should be a nice place. I guess you'll know by my next update.

So I'll keep it short. Until then... viel spaß.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ich liebe deutsches brot <3

Perhaps its lust or early-stages of infatuation--but I am absolutely head over heels in love with German bread.

The backeries (in addition to being EVERYWHERE) have such an inviting, tempting atmosphere. All the colors, all the different types--sweet, savory, chocolate, fruit-filled, creme-filled, with cheese or ham on rye, seeded rolls, loafs, croissants, brötchen, pretzels, pumpernickle--and the list goes on.

All for a ridiculously low low price.

Germany is not the place for the faint-hearted. Or the carb watcher.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Neu Perspektive an der Altstadt

Usually a visit to Nürnberg means walking along Königstraße and the streets running perpendicular to it, visiting some shopping centres, eating eis, and perhaps enjoying the views of the old medieval skyline along the river. This time however, I thought I would change it up a bit and take the tour of the altstadt, given by one of the tour guides from the Touristen-Büro (its the only official tour in English offered to the public, at 1pm every day of the week in front of the Hauptmarkt Tourism Office).

It was worth every Euro--thanks of course to the fact that the city has an incredibly fascinating history, but also because Erika Jordan, our Mexican born, German tour guide had an incredible amount of knowledge on the history of the city and really took her time to show us as much as she could (the tour lasted almost 3 hours!) That's her underneath showing us St. George, the patron of the house there and the famous painting of the rabbit by Albrecht Dürer.

I am glad I got to know a little bit more about my future home (we are currently looking for an apartment in the city for September)... and while you may know little or lots about this place already, I thought I'd share a few interesting things I learned yesterday. Maybe it might even spark your interest in coming to see this beautiful place for yourselves one day.

1) Nuremberg (the English spelling for the city) is known for its Lebkuchen (or Christmas cookie that is similar to gingerbread), the Nürnberger sausages (which are nothing more than tiny sausages about the size of your ring finger), Albrect Dürer (the 15th century painter), it's wealthy and significant historical past during the time of the Holy Roman Empire in the Middle Ages, the Nazi Party Rallies & War Trials in the 20th century, and the Kristkindlmarkt (the world famous Christmas market held every year, 4 weeks before Christmas Eve in the Hauptmarkt).

2) The old city is divided into two parts named after the two largest churches: the St. Lorenz and St. Sebald sections. The river Pegnitz cuts the city into almost even sized parts and runs directly through the middle, east to west.

3) During WWII, Nürnberg was the center of the Nazi party where most of the rallies were held. Hauptmarktplatz was renamed (as in all major German cities during the 30s) Adolf Hitler Platz and banners adorned with swastikas were mandatory on the homes and businesses in the square. Hitler began building a colloseum (which is in the outskirts of the city) he hoped to fit 400,000 people (Nuremberg's population is only 600,000), yet it was never completed due to the end of the war.

4) From 1933-1935, the city came up with a plan to save the historic artwork and architecure of the town just in case war broke out. A few years later, with the beginning of World War II, the city put the plan into action and removed everything of value from the museums and churches (including all the glass from the stained glass windows) and placed them into the underground tunnels that were built back in the 1500s for the beer breweries. As a result of this enormous effort on the part of the city, the majority of of the city's art and historical pieces still remain.

5) 90% of the city was destroyed in the bombing of the war, yet Nuremberg is one of the few cities (unlike Cologne or Frankfurt) that chose to try and rebuild the city as much as possible keeping the architecture and character of the medieval city that Nuremberg was before the war. (This by the way really gives the city charm ;).

6) In addition to Dürer, Nuremberg is home to the inventor of the first pocket watch (originally built in the shape of an egg that women found fashionable to wear around their necks) and to Levi Strauss, inventor of the blue jeans.

Looking forward to making Nuremberg my home. Then I will really take the time to get to know as much as I can about it.
:) Good times ahead.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

no, seriously, this is for real

A couple of weeks ago, I was playing some American country music for David and in turn, David played some German "folk" music for me.

You need to see it to believe it.

It's called "Gloria Alla Montagna"...**
(I couldn't upload the video directly but here's a link to the video on YouTube.)


**Even if tempted to, don't exit until at least 0:37. It will be worth the wait, I promise.

Monday, July 13, 2009

"Rainy ol' Lauf..."

I was walking through Lauf yesterday, in a rare moment of sunshine and blue skies, and as I looked around I realized Germans have this bipolar existance. They adorn their houses with suncatchers, they dress their windowsills in colorful flowers, and every home has a "Familie" nameplate made of clay with little suns or catepillars under the doorbell. They love bakeries, flower shops and the majority of shops here sell sometype of greeting or post card. And despite the German's tendencies towards "the cute", on the opposite end of the spectrum, the rough, punk rebel spirit seeps out from the young people of Germany. They revolt against the clean cut, they abhor the lebekuchen with cutsie sayings on them written with pink frosting, they embrace the Döner and McDonald's. These are the youth who grafitti the historic walls of the town with saying like "Nazis Raus" or "No Nazis!"

Perhaps all nations can atest to the opposing forces of the younger vs. older generations, but it seems more pronounced to me here in Germany, perhaps because I'm a stranger looking in. Still, I wonder, what will win out in the end--the cute or the cool culture...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

taking the Bahn to Bayreuth...

8:34 am and here I am again writing a blog.

What I really should be doing is going for a walk in the fresh air and the sunlight, but I have been searching online for a ticket on the DB (Deutsche Bahn) website (bahn.de) for the last hour or so to get me from Nürnberg to Köln this Saturday without breaking the bank or taking an entire day to get there. So far, I've been unable to find anything that fits both those criteria.

Germans love their trains and public transportation--and why not? Its more cost efficient than commuting by car and having to fill up with costly petrol. Its faster in some cases and the best part is no stress, just sit back and enjoy the ride. The DB is for the most part, very clean (the Germans wouldn't have it any other way) and very easy to use. And--if you look around, you can find some pretty good deals to travel around Germany.

They have what's called a Länder-Ticket, which you can buy and with it can travel anywhere within one of the 16 states within Germany. The amazing thing is that you can purchase a group ticket which you can then use for up to five people. The Bayern-Ticket for example, which you can use to travel anywhere in Bavaria from 9am-3am the next morning, costs around 28 Euros. Divide that up by 5 (assuming you can pull together a party of 5 people) and you've got yourself a day pass to some of the most beautiful places in Bavaria--Neuschwanstein (the original inspiration to what became the Disney castle), München, Nürnberg, Bamberg, Würzburg, Augsburg, Regensburg--basically all the -bergs your little heart can hope for, you can go to, for less than 6 euros per person.

Saturday I decided to take a trip to Bayreuth using the Bayern ticket. Unfortunately, I did not have five people to accompany me, so I had to purchase the Bayern single ticket (20 euros), which is still not a bad deal. David was studying for exams, so I made the journey on my own.

Bayreuth is like many a German town/city with the cobble stone, the castle, the marktplatz--but it was home to many famous artists of the past, including the classical composer Richard Wagner. I am not very familiar with much of his work--however, having a father who is an opera composer, who loves opera and all things classical music related--I decided to go check it out.

The Opernhause is absolutely out of this world and it doesn't take an opera aficionado to figure that out. It's one of the last remaining Baroque theatres still entirely intact, which although I couldn't really tell you the significance of that, the theatre is just breathtaking. I won't waste my time trying to describe it, have a look yourself.

The opera house also has exhibits you can walk around to see, including a peak backstage where they have examples of sets and costumes as well as replicas of machines they used to recreate sound effects for the stage before audio systems existed. Even though I've forgotten pretty much everything I learned in Theatre History and Stagecraft, it was still fascinating. I also paid 4 euros to attend a light and sound show--however since the entire thing was in German, I probably could have done without.

After the opera house, I walked towards the marktplatz and found my way to the Historiche Museum, Richard Wagner's Haus (which is now a musuem) and gravestone, the courtyard gardens (Hofgarten) where I was chased by ferocious Bayreuthian ducks (who must have thought I was going to feed them) and the New Palace.

Afterwards, I started back to the city center and slowly made my way towards the Hauptbahnhof--bought myself some eis along the way and hopped on the 17:12 train back to Nürnberg.

A pretty inexpensive yet enjoyable excursion for an unemployed recently graduated expat.

For those of you who want to know about another great deal on Bahn.de, there is what's called a Shönes-Wochenende Ticket which allows you to travel anywhere (really, anywhere) in Germany for 37 euros for up to five people from midnight on Saturday or Sunday until 3 am the next morning. The only catch is that you can only take local trains (so no ICE or Inter-City Express), which means your journey could take you from 6-8 hours if you are traveling from the south to north (or vice versa), however its a great deal for people who don't have a lot of money and want to see lots of different places all over the country.

Safe travelling.