Thursday, June 23, 2011

Taking a step away from the norm...

So this is not the normal type of thing that I post here on the blog--but I wanted to share these links as I think the content is really good. I watched these two documentaries yesterday about society's portrayal of masculinity ("Tough Guise") and femininity ("Killing Us Softly") and how these images and beliefs about what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman are destroying any chance of being 'human'.

If you have time, take a look.  They have my strong recommendation (two thumbs up here). Both documentaries together are shorter than the average movie that you find these days.  If you do watch them, let me know what you think.

Killing Us Softly 3: Advertising's Image of Women
(around 30 minutes)

Tough Guise: Violence, Media & the Crisis in Masculinity
(around 55 minutes)


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Today marks two years since I first called Germany my new home.

The newness has worn off in some ways, but in other ways, I still find myself enchanted.

I find that going into the Altstadt still feels glamorous and wonderful.  And I can't get over how green everything is here in Germany.  Not just green as in “they are obsessed with recycling and make you divide your garbage into four different cans”, but green as in the earth, the plants, the trees—they are like popping off the page, mix of kiwi-cucumber-and- honeydew-melon greens everywhere you look. 

As for the language—while still frustrating at times, is getting easier.  Everyone says you learn a language faster living in the country, and I think in general that is true, but you certainly don’t learn a language just by being in the country.  But each time I listen and I look and I read, I get it more and more.

Here's to the start of round three!

Until next time,

Monday, June 13, 2011

Road Trippin' -- European Style

After months of planning we finally completed our European road trip. My sister and her husband were visiting Europe for the first time and I wanted them to see as much as they could during their stay. 

The distances between destinations weren't that far (we drove from south Germany to Croatian coast with stops along the way), but of course the reality was we were driving in new territory and it wasn't always so clear where we had to go (usually when it came to finding our hostel or hotel).  The timing was great because there weren't so many tourists yet but that also meant the weather wasn't peak yet either (the water was still a bit too cool and it rained almost every day, but luckily only a short time).

Our some 2000 km drive included stops in 1)Bled, Slovenia  2) Krk Island, Croatia 3) Plitvice National Park, Croatia 4) Ljubljana, Slovenia and 5) Salzburg, Austria.

Some things learned along the way?

-If you need to have an automatic transmission, it can be hard to get a rental company that can guarantee the car--with a tip from a friend, we had luck reserving a car from a rental company at the airport.

-The downside to the airport rental is that (at least in Germany) there is a 20% airport/train station fee. :( Somehow the sales representatives "forgot" to mention that when we booked the car on the phone.

-GPS is not as crucial as you might think.  Our car didn't have one (and after the additional airport fee, we decided to do without renting the GPS which would have been an additional 50 Euros for the week) and we did perfectly fine.  I picked up a map of the region we were traveling to and it was pretty easy for most of the drive.  In addition, once we were in Croatia, we could pick up lots of local maps at the tourist information centers for free.  And in my humble opinion, I don't think the GPS would have even managed to guide us through all those back roads in Croatia anyway without getting us lost.

-If you are going to Croatia, exchange your Euros for Kunas in Croatia!  The exchange rate is infinitely better and you can practically do it everywhere.

- Being flexible is key on a road trip.  Believe it or not, we had originally planned one last destination in the south of Germany for the last day of our trip--but by day 7 we were exhausted and I think being flexible and free to cut (or add) destinations along the way is best.

Although it was a bit exhausting (even with three drivers), I have to say it was an incredible trip!

Have you ever done a Euro-Trip by car?  Where did you go and what was it like?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Killer cucumbers?

E. Coli is the word on the streets these days (or more like EHEC).  There's been an outbreak in the north of Germany and close to 30 people are dead and some few thousand are infected.

Some say its the fault of the Spanish cucumber, others fault the German-grown bean sprout from the north, and still others say there is no one to blame but the consumer themselves. That we have become so far removed from where our food comes from that it was inevitable that something like this would happen and will continue to happen in the next few years if we don't start paying more attention to the food production industry.

Despite the fact that the warning was placed only on cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce, supermarkets shelves are loaded with all kinds of fresh produce going bad.  The purchase of vegetables are down by 40%. Farmers are up in arms and ready to sue, consumers aren't getting their daily servings of fruits and veg. In a country of  80 million plus people, 30 have died from the virus--is this another case where the media has over exaggerated or is the caution justified? 

What do you think?

**picture not my property