Strasbourg, France- A day trip in pictures

Take the architecture of Germany, add in a dash of French culture and language- and you’ve got Strasbourg.  We strolled the cobblestone streets, ate croissants, and enjoyed the afternoon sunshine.

Categories: deployment, photography, travel, weather | 1 Comment

Homebodies- and the German Difference of the Week

Well, we’re homebodies at least for this weekend.  I know, I know- our time here is growing short.  (And, honestly, it’s making me kind of antsy.)

But!  But…even the heartiest traveler needs to take a break.  Li has developed a cold over the last few days- and while she’s a trooper, there’s been a lot of nose wiping and coughing in our house.

We did head into Kaiserslautern on Saturday in search of an Easter dress for Li.  I came to the realization that we’ll be traveling almost every weekend between now and Easter- and I don’t think her torn jeans quite fit the bill.  Especially as we’ll be in Paris for Easter- the epicenter of fashionable children.

We also picked up a few staples at our local German grocery store while we were out- including:

Any guesses? (From those who do not speak German, that is…)

Toothpaste, maybe?  Spackle?  Some kind of industrial adhesive?

Actually, it’s mustard. “Lion Mustard” to be precise.

On the shelves of our German grocery store there were probably 40 different brands of it- mostly in tubes like above, but jars were also available.  I kind of wish I had my camera for a picture…

I don’t think the metal tube of mustard is a German-only thing.  I’ve also seen them in Luxembourg and Belgium grocery stores- but I think the Germans have a special fondness for mustard.  Every bite of sausage I’ve eaten here has been covered in mustard- or at least included it in a little dish on the plate.

And the American-loved ketchup?  Also available- but only really when you order french fries.

And definitely not in the cool tube.

Categories: German differences, Germany, Li, of course, photography, travel, weather | 1 Comment

Top of the Morning to You

If I ever need to flee the US – whether it’s because of witnessing a mob hit, or because my international spy cover has been blown, or because an alien crash-landed in my garden shed and now the government wants to experiment on him, I’m going to Ireland.  Don’t tell anyone, ok?

Li, going incognito.

After struggling with learning German, speaking German, and traveling to other countries with languages I don’t know (cough, cough, Belgium, cough), Ireland felt like coming home a bit.

I took about a million pictures- and rather go through them one by one- attached is the photo gallery.  Make sure you keep an eye out for Li on the grounds of her future college.  🙂

Categories: deployment, Dublin, Guinness, Hus (Brisket), Ireland, Li, me, photography, random movie reference, travel | 4 Comments

On the Road Again…Again.

Though a strike at the Frankfurt airport threatened to derail us, we’re heading to Dublin for a long weekend.  

See you Monday!

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The Land of the Brothers Grimm

And the residents of Hesse take the honor seriously…well, kind of seriously…

Driving through a Hessian town devoted to Snow White

Friday was Brisket’s 35th birthday!  I pestered him for weeks about what he wanted- and it turned out he wanted to go somewhere.  Big surprise.

If you were me, you start looking for hotels and destinations- and about an hour into the process become incredibly frustrated as it appears that everything is booked.  Everything!   Who travels in Germany in the dead of winter?  Who I ask you?

What?  Valentine’s Day?  Oh, yeah.  That makes sense.

Long story short, I eventually stumbled on a castle/hotel that had an open room, the Schloss Waldeck.  It also happened to be located in the region of Hesse, the birthplace of Brisket’s ancestors from the days of yore*.

Waldeck castle was beautiful- and though it was completely renovated a couple of years ago and the rooms are pretty modern- we were excited to sleep in a real castle.

View from our room:

The lobby and exteriors retained the “castle feel”.

And an awesome view over Lake Edersee.

After tracking down the Brisket family origins, we also headed into the nearby town of Fritzlar.  The town is known for its half-timbered houses, full medieval town wall, and a high rate of frost bite due to sub-zero temperatures in February.

Li and I huddling to stay warm.

The Hesse Region was beautiful- but pretty deserted.  I can only imagine it during high season- and am kind of glad we were able to visit for Brisket’s birthday in the winter.

Li was just glad we celebrated Brisket’s birthday with cake.

*Yore being an official word meaning “between 100 and 1,000 years ago”.

Categories: deployment, Germany, Hus (Brisket), photography, travel | 2 Comments

A Winter Weekday Morning

 

Our little German town is pretty sleepy during the week- especially if it’s too cold to go outside, like it has been for the last week and a half.

Li and I make due though.

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In other news, we’re just past our halfway point for our stay here-  we’ll be home in less than three months!

Brisket and I are furiously trying to figure out travel plans for the weekends we have left- but would love suggestions.

So far, we have been to- or will be visiting:

Athens, Greece; Basel, Switzerland; Brussels, Belgium; Brugge, Belgium; Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany; Munich, Germany; Rothenberg/Amberg, Germany; Kassel, Germany; Rudersheim Am Rhein, Germany; Heidelberg, Germany; Luxembourg; Dublin, Ireland; Paris, France; Veere, Netherlands;

But where else would you suggest?  Any place that shouldn’t be missed?

Categories: deployment, Germany, ideas, Li, of course, photography | 2 Comments

German Difference of the Week- I’ll leave a light on for you*.

*Or, you know, not.

One of the big differences I’ve noticed in US and German cultures is the view on energy efficiency.  While the “green” movement is still gaining momentum in the US, the Germans are very much about saving energy.

I’m a bit embarassed at what I threw away in the states compared to what is required recycling here.  Our trash amounts to one measly little bag a week now.

All of our major appliances also have an “eco” feature that means a shorter cycle, usually with colder water.   And, I’ve already talked about the drying racks here.

One more case in point?  Streetlights.

Mile after mile of US freeway- illuminated by streetlights.  Going into cities, leaving cities- they’re everywhere.

In Germany?

As soon as you’re out of a town or city?  Pitch black. 

On the autobahn?  Pitch black.

And in the Black Forest?  Surprise! Pitch black.

It makes sense- it saves energy and money.  And besides, why do you think your car has headlights? 

But it’s a bit spooky while driving.  Especially through the woods. 

Brisket has told me many, many times that the legend of the Wolfman originated in Germany’s Black Forest.

Not entirely surprised anymore.

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In other news, we skipped the traveling this weekend.  Winter arrived with a vengeance, and the last week has been freezing.  FREEZING.  

So, instead of walking around a lovely medieval town and marveling at the architecture while risking frostbite and gangrene, the three of us went to see the Muppet movie.   Yes, I’m aware it came out at Thanksgiving for those of you in the states…the movie theater on base is a bit relaxed in getting first run movies.

Li had a wonderful time.  I think she forgot she wasn’t at home once or twice, and asked questions about the on-screen antics in a very, VERY loud voice.

All and all, a pretty good weekend.

Categories: deployment, German differences, Germany, Hus (Brisket), Li, me, Milwaukee, travel | Leave a comment

Luxembourg- A Weekend in Pictures

We visited some distant relatives of Brisket’s this weekend- we managed to squeeze in quite a few tourist sites while we were there…but the highlight of the weekend were our great hosts and personal tour guides!

Categories: deployment, Hus (Brisket), photography, travel | Leave a comment

German Difference of the Week- Where the bears are made of sugar…

France has pastries.  Belgium has chocolate.

Germany has all things “gummi”.

They have full stores of just gummi items- in every flavor and color you can dream up.

Naturally this one is next to the Hard Rock Cafe…because gummi bears and rock music were made for each other.

Yep, that’s a gummi pizza.

The grocery stores are also filled a wide assortment of flavors, including original, sour, peach, cherry, and cola (?)…

Even when you sleep, the reach of the gummi empire is not far away.

Gummi Sheep- Found on our pillows when we checked into our hotel in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Categories: German differences, Germany, why? | 2 Comments

Athens…and the perfect pair of sandals.

Every place we’ve visit, I try to pick up a little souvenir.  Nothing big- something that reminds me of the city and is easy to ship home.  In Basel, I bought a snowman ornament.   In Brussels, I bought a tin of baking chocolate.

Athens did me in though.

Maybe you’ve heard…They kind of like olives in Greece- and as an olive fan myself, I was happy to sample the goods.

I even bought an olive-colored scarf-  though I wasn’t conscious of the color choice until after we were on the plane heading home.   It must have been a subliminal thing.

My most exciting souvenir from Athens though?  The sandals.

Yes, I realize it’s the middle of winter, but I think I’ve established my fondness for a good pair of shoes…or really, any pair of shoes.

On our first night in Athens, I stumbled across a blog that touted the “poet sandal maker of Athens“, Stavros Melissinos and his son, Pantelis, who has taken over the business.  The blog talked about the general awesomeness of the shop- which custom fits every pair of leather sandals- and the celebrities the shop has fitted.  The Beatles.  Jackie O.  Barbra Streisand.  Jeremy Irons.  Sophia Loren.  The list went on and on and on.

I was intrigued- who wouldn’t want custom fitted sandals from Athens? – but I was a little concerned about the price, as I do not have a celebrity paycheck.  But, we decided to check it out.

The shop was just past the Athens flea market, off of a very busy street- but it was kind of unassuming, and easy to pass if you weren’t looking for it.  There was a placard of sandals outside the shop- but then there are placards of sandals on practically every corner.

Inside, was a different story.

Stacks and stacks of leather sandals of all styles and sizes.  Poster after poster of the celebrities and their sandals from the shop.  It smelled great (if you like the smell of leather, like I do!).

Pantelis Melissinos helped us personally- first by helping us choose a style, and then a size.  I chose the John Lennon – though I was tempted to try them all on…

Once the sole was a good fit, Pantelis set to making the sandal fit my feet exactly.   The main sandal strap was a bit large, but within minutes he shortened it so the sandal wouldn’t move from my foot.  Then, as I was wearing the sandals, he punched holes in the ankle strap to get the perfect fit and cut the leather to the perfect length.

Brisket also chose a pair- but they didn’t have his size in that style.  Not a problem- they could custom make them on the spot.  Once they got the right sole, it was only a few minutes before Pantelis was adjusting the leather to fit his feet too- talking and joking with us and Li the entire time.

Brisket’s foot, obviously…I hope.

And the fit?  Perfect.  They are the most comfortable sandals I think I own- and the leather will form to our feet and get more comfortable as we wear them.

The final price?  Only 30 Euro each.  A great deal for a custom-fitted pair of leather sandals- and an experience I won’t  be able to find in the U.S.

Is anyone heading to Athens soon so I can get another pair?

Categories: deployment, Greece, Hus (Brisket), me, OMG, shoes, travel | 4 Comments

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