Sunday Snapshots: Waterfront

Lake Garda, 2015

Considering that we just got through the Pentecost holidays, I’m guessing I’ve heard about Lake Garda somewhere between one and 10,000 times in the last month. It’s an extremely popular destination for Bavarians since you can get there in less than five hours. While I would’ve loved to get there again this year, I’m consoling myself with the thought that we leave for our summer vacation in a few days…

Six Years In

Yesterday marked my 6-year anniversary of living in Germany. I spent the majority of the day teaching in company Zap, which was rather fitting as that was the company that I was originally hired to teach at here. Tuesdays at company Zap are full days, and usually by the time I get home I’m completely bushed. Unfortunately yesterday the workday wasn’t over, as we had a few stops to make on the way home, and when we arrived I had to  get on the phone for two quick phone lessons that I’m doing as part of a multi-facet business course.

But, let’s be honest, none of that is all that exciting for such a momentous occasion as surviving yet another year among the madness of the Deutsch.

Instead, allow me to present some pictures of what’s been going on in just this last week. As I mentioned back in May, June has been pretty jam-packed. I have missed writing more often, honestly, but there’s been so much going on that I haven’t managed to settle myself down at the computer to do anything about it.

So what have I been up to? Well let’s dive into last weekend…

On Friday after I finished work, I met BV at home where he was lounging and enjoying yet another ‘bridge day.’  Since it was beautiful weather and not ungodly hot, we decided to take a long walk to the lovely biergarten on the river about eight kilometers away. While on the way there we spotted this restaurant in a small village, and thought its terrace looked rather inviting. After the biergarten and a salty pretzel or two, we got back to this village and decided our thirst needed another drink to quench it. So we stopped, had a drink, watched the birds swooping in and out of the barn across the street, and I admired the window boxes. Lush window boxes are delightful.

Then we wandered our way back home, and juuuuust so happened to come across the entrance to our village’s Kirchweih, which had just begun. And you bet your ass we stopped off to get some roasted nuts and yes, another beer. It wasn’t the plan, but we managed to turn our nice walk into an impromptu beer hike. Whoops.

The next day we slept later than planned (wonder why), frantically packed our bags, made ourselves presentable and headed off to the chapel…

My very lovely Sprachduo friend E. was marrying her fella of 12 years, and it was quite the occasion. Previously I’ve attended two German weddings, both from friends/colleagues of BV, and they were lovely. But this couple were both village mice, and the events of the day reflected that. For starters, they’re both involved in music groups, so there were several performances by various bands scattered throughout the day. His soccer and Kerwa clubs showed up during the ceremony, and sneakily erected a tiny Kerwabaum* while we were all in the church. Naturally they also brought and tapped a pony keg for the occasion.

Then everyone was off to the reception location, minus us, as we had to make a short detour to the nearest town with a store (any store) that sold shirts because guess who managed to bring two pairs of shorts for Sunday but not a shirt? That would be me. Again, whoops.

Shirt acquired, we joined everyone else at the reception location where everyone was already deep into the Sekt and another couple of kegs. Dishes of appetizers were passed around while everyone mingled and photos were done. Eventually the cake made an appearance, and after everyone snagged a slice or ten (so many cakes at German weddings!), all the men scampered off to another hotel bar up the road. This is fairly common. Sometimes the bride also gets kidnapped but not this time. They just got a little more sauced up while all the ladies organized themselves for more pictures. BV declined the additional sauce, so he even got to play photographer. Good man.

I’m currently in a phase where I actually don’t hate photos of myself, and I wanted to show off my grandma’s ring, which I can finally, somewhat miraculously, now wear. I always planned to get it resized but turns out? My fingers were just chubby.

Please enjoy a rare nice picture of me, especially with svelte fingers and a cocktail ring.

As is typical with German weddings, we made ze all-night party, yah. When the band finally started to break down the equipment, I checked my watch and was shocked to see the time… damn near 3am. We packed it in but rumor has it that the party continued until nearly 7. I don’t know how the couple managed to appear functional at breakfast but they are troopers.

Since the wedding was in the very lovely area close to the Franconian Switzerland, we planned to do a bit of hiking on Sunday. And hike we did, picking a round tour through the area. It promised a stop on top of a nearby hill at a Hütte, which was lovely but closed. The Franconian Switzerland strikes again!

We soldiered on, around a few more villages, admiring the overflowing gardens, and hunting for anyplace that could serve us something liquid. Preferably a yeast-based beverage. Mostly, it was just Fachwerk and flowers though. It’s okay. I do love Fachwerk, regardless of how thirsty I am.

We ended up right back where we started which was good since 1) it was supposed to be a round tour and 2) that’s where the car was. Even better, there were a few restaurants open and they had cold drinks. Sunday was the day when the temperature really started to creep up and we almost knocked over the waitress in our attempts to ensure they were still serving.

The day’s tour over, it was time to head home again and prep for the week ahead. Class papers to sort, grills to be lit, all of that good stuff.

Which brings us back to Tuesday. Six years in. I can’t say that I have any wise words or deep thoughts on what it’s like to have been here for so long. There have been ups, there have been downs. That’s life. But lately, it’s been a lot more ups and I can’t say that I regret anything that has happened along the way.

I love living here. I love the life that BV and I have created for ourselves in our little Franconian nook. I love the friends that I have made here. And I love that I’m still surprised and amused by the oddities of ze Germany. Boredom kills brain cells and I need those little guys. So Prost to that.

 

*See Kirchweih link above for clarification on that one.

Sunday Snapshots: By Land and By Sea

Wisconsin Dells, 2013

If it’s hot today as it was on this day, then I am supremely jealous of my past self. Nothing feels quite like some Wisconsin lake spray on your face when the humidity is through the roof. Most Wisconsinites would probably live directly on a lake in summer, given half the chance.

On the other hand, taking a tour on the Original Wisconsin Ducks is hardly an every day occurrence.  But when taking your German boyfriend to visit the tourist trap capital of the state, it’s a must. Everything is a little cheesy (WI pun intended), but it’s pretty fun either way.

 

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31-Day Challenge: Day 31

Ah, all good things must come to an end.

Or in the case of this, all things must come to an end.

Overall, I feel pretty satisfied with how this little experiment went. With the exception of two days, I managed to hit my writing goal on time. I don’t think anything I wrote this month knocked my socks off, but it was nice just to get back into the habit and that was really the point of the exercise.

The hardest thing about it was really what to write about. While I do have things that I find amusing or interesting or obnoxious on a daily basis, they weren’t always things I felt like I wanted to write about. And I wasn’t really interested in doing daily blow-by-blows of what I did that day. That made some days challenging, and while using the prompts was useful, there are A LOT of prompts that made me roll my eyes pretty hard. I have never thrown or attended an Oscar party, and give zero fucks about what kind of food or drink I might serve at such an event.

Also, when did people get so into the Kentucky Derby?

I do hope that I’ll be able to keep the writing itch satisfied in the future, whether or not those things make it into this space. I very much enjoyed doing some daily recording while we were on our mini-vacation this month, and I think I’d like to try doing that when we head on our big summer trip to Norway. Not everything is reserved for the trip yet, so I have no idea what the internet situation will be wherever we decide to stay, but I might consider doing a regular travelogue while we’re there. As discussed earlier this month, I am not a Travel Blogger and so I’d rather do quick updates while there than try to do big fancy schmancy posts when we get back. Or, think about doing those and never get around to it, like most vacations seem to go.

Honestly, I’d rather be in the moment and enjoying myself on vacation than trying to figure out how best to blog about it. But that’s me. You do you, Travel Bloggers of the world.

And if we end up booking a bunch of places in the middle of nowhere and there’s no internet, then that’ll decide that question. No skin off my back. But that’s all TBD.

Big thanks to those of you who read along and commented. That’s always the best part of blogging, as far as I’m concerned. I’m a crap commenter on other people’s blogs, but maybe my fancy new phone and improved internet service will make me better at it. If my train time can be more productive, that seems like a good use of data to me.

Happy June to all!

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Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.

31-Day Challenge: Day 30

Full disclosure: yesterday was nuts and I forgot to write. It’s the end of the challenge and I was distracted. Why? Read below…

Tuesdays take a lot out of me. Why, I really don’t know, but despite the fact that I get up at the same time as other days, and have the same number of classes as on other days, they really wear me out. Now that the weather has improved, it’s much easier to do something else immediately after class rather than coming home at 4pm and collapsing onto the couch.

Over the weekend, my nearly 5-year old iPhone 4s decided it just didn’t feel like turning on anymore. It’s been doing a whole pile of interesting stuff for so long that I don’t actually know the last time it was working “right.” It went through a phase where it vibrated nearly constantly for no reason, to not vibrating at all. It made noises some times, but not all the time. Somehow the alarm always worked, but that was about the only noise that it reliably made. Since it sometimes made unexpected noises, for the last few months I’ve left the headphones plugged in constantly while in class, lest it ring and interrupt everyone. Last week it rang, with the headphones plugged in, and scared the living crap out of me. I don’t understand how that one worked, but it happened.

I’d wanted to get a new phone and contract for ages, but because this is Germany, you have to cancel a previous contract three months in advance. I originally signed a 2-year contract, and if you don’t cancel it, it automatically rolls over for another year. My old contract was up in June, and we tried to cancel it on April 1st. No dice. Either sign a new one, or you’re stuck with us a whole year more. We tried to get some offers from my provider but they were all pretty much crap and then we were both busy so that got put on the back burner again.

So when Sunday rolled around and the phone just decided it was tired of working, I had had it. I managed to force start it enough to do emergency things, like get the South Tyrol pictures off of it that I hadn’t downloaded yet, and then I put my foot down. It was time.

Yesterday after work, BV and I made the pilgrimage into the city to see what could be done. Honestly, I don’t think the deal that I ended up getting was any better than those initial offers, but we were there, I have more than 800mb of internet per month (seriously, you try living with that when you spend as much time on trains as I do), and I have a new phone with way more storage and it seems to be working correctly for now. I was a happy girl.

After we took care of that, we ran over to the optician so I could pick up my new contact lenses, and now I’m a whole new person. We celebrated by going up to one of my favorite cafes for a little rose wine and some people watching, and then did a bit more wandering around. We made the executive decision to go for Greek food, which was an excellent choice as 1) we were already in the city so might as well, 2) we hadn’t been there in ages and the owner loves BV almost as much as I do, 3) we have no groceries at home, and 4) it was too damn hot to cook anyway.

Properly fueled by zucchini balls, feta, and other Greek goodies, we made our way back home. BV retired to digest his food baby, and I started the process of trying to set up my new electronic baby. Naturally updating one thing never works on its own, so updates to the computer had to be made, things had to be retrieved from clouds (the future is now!), and next thing I knew it was past 1am.

Guess time really does fly when you are in the cloud.

I’ve nearly got things where I want them, but as per usual, I’m having a bitch of a time trying to get audio tracks for my classes onto the phone. These damn things always format in a nutty way and end up somewhere that I can’t find them, and it’s insanely frustrating. On the plus side, I no longer have to physically carry a CD player around (seriously, I did that), but it still makes me excessively cussy. Baby steps though.

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Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.

31-Day Challenge: Day 29

Today’s post gets a little salty, because it was Monday and that’s how it goes.

So. As previously mentioned on this blog, I spend an absurd amount of time on trains. I love the trains here, but I see a fair amount of questionable behavior. Or, behavior that passes as questionable on our normally quiet, commuter train, which would hardly warrant the bat of an eyelash in Berlin.

I’ve written before about the salmon-people, and have been occasionally known to mutter a quiet “jackass” when someone cuts right in front of me or won’t put down their phone while walking up or down stairs to the S-Bahn. This is a new one and I cannot WAIT until the day one of them trips on the way up or down. It’s coming, and yes, when you are walking down the stairs while watching porn on your phone, we can all see your screen.

Monday is a split day for me. Normally I have an early class, then head home to grab lunch and gather my things for my afternoon classes. I can either just make a train and be home in an hour, or just miss the train and then I need an extra 30 minutes. Today, I just missed the train, and instead of going and getting a coffee, I decided to sit in the sun and enjoy my book until the next train arrived.

Normally, I am a stander. Mostly because I don’t like the fact that 8-10 people will crowd onto/around the little 8-seater chair sets that are set up on either end of our train platform. I will happily stand rather than be smashed up next to a stranger. But today, it was hot af, I had my heavy backpack with my laptop, and since I had just missed the train there were hardly any people on the platform.

On the opposite end there were two or three people, but I never go to that end because that’s where the smoking area is. Instead, I went to my usual end and grabbed a chair. On the other side of the chair set was a mother with her young son, who was maybe four or so. When I sat down, the mom was on the phone. The kid was running around the chair sets, climbing on her, and occasionally trying to climb over the back of the chairs while staring at me. I pulled out my book and decided the best course of action was to ignore him.

He continued to run around and climb, with the mom intermittently yelling at him, and focusing on her phone call. The phone call was also on speaker, so I got to share the conversation, which I always find delightful. Eventually the kid got bored of climbing on the chairs, and decided to run between the tracks on either side of the platform. A great idea, as ICE trains come through regularly and those do not slow down. When he got bored of that, he decided that shaking the heavy metal garbage containers to see if they moved might be a good idea.

At this point, the mom finally took notice of him again, and handed the phone off to him so he could chat with Auntie or whoever the hell she was talking to. Instead, he took off running with the phone, and the mom chased after him. That call ended, or was cut off, and in my head I was thinking, “oh thank goodness that’s over,” but of course she immediately got back on the phone. To the same person or a new one, I couldn’t tell. This seems to be a theme on public transport though, and my thought is always, “hey, if the phone keeps cutting off, MAYBE WAIT UNTIL YOU’RE NOT OUTSIDE ON A TRAIN.” But no, she persevered.

Mom kept up the calls on speaker, until two older gentlemen came up and sat down in our chair set. Then she turned off the speaker, but continued her chat as the kid ran around and stared at the rest of us.

After 25 minutes, our train was finally pulling in. I got up and went to go stand next to the doors, and of course the kid comes running in front of me. The train is still moving (super safe), but mom is far behind, still on the phone. The kid runs up,  and starts stabbing at the button to open the door. When the doors open, of course all the people disembarking have to go around this little kid, because he’s still standing in the way. As the last passengers get off, the mom comes around me (HUGE pet peeve, wait until everyone is off THEN get on train), and gets on with the kid.

I’m already shaking my head at this point, when the little shit turns around, points his finger at me and shouts “NEIN!”

Oh for fuck’s sake. I look at his mom, who is of course still on the phone and say “CONTROL YOUR KID.” Yes, in English.* Which I normally avoid uttering a word of on the train lest I am outed as a foreigner.

Yes, I am becoming that person. She gave me the nastiest look at I walked off to go sit down, but seriously… you’ve been on the phone for half an hour now while your kid runs around acting like a little shit, and I’m the bad person? No.

I know kids will be kids. But when kids are being kids, perhaps get off the f-in phone and teach them how to behave in public?

I sat in my usual spot in the back of the carriage, and from that point  until they got off the train 20 minutes later, I could still hear them. The mom was still on the phone, and the kid was running from one end of the train to the other, occasionally screaming. She must have put the phone down at some point, because I could see her reflection in the ceiling as she chased him. After that he started crying and she put him in some sort of ‘time out’ situation which, judging by the reflection and the whining, was fairly short lived. But when they got off the train, she had him by one arm and the phone to her ear with the other.

Maybe it all stems from jealousy because I barely have service in the middle of the city and I don’t understand how all these people are able to chat for nearly an hour, uninterrupted as the train travels over canal and forest. It astounds me.

I also know that it’s incredibly easy for me as a childless person to be like, “hey, why don’t you teach your kid, you horrible parent, you,” but the amount of crap I witness like this on the train is amazing. It’s obnoxious enough when people can’t get off the phones while walking in high traffic areas at rush hour, but when they’re wandering about AND they’re teaching their kids that this kind of thing is okay? Nope. Nope. Can’t handle it.

End rant. Happy Monday, don’t teach your kids to be dicks.

*BV clarified for me this evening how to say it correctly in German, in both the formal and informal. I think informal is both easier and more appropriate to their behavior but that’s probably not correct. Oh well.

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Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.

 

 

31-Day Challenge: Day 28

Today is my mom’s 60th birthday. Weird.

I thought the same when my dad had his a few years ago. It didn’t seem possible, but there it was.

When you go abroad long term, it’s inevitable that you miss out on a lot of things. There are birthdays, weddings, babies, divorces, deaths. All those things that make human life human life.

They exist here too, of course, and sometimes you become part of them as well. There have been weddings and births among friends here since I’ve been here, and deaths, too. Just like the threads of life bind people together in one place, they stretch across distances as well.

Sometimes it’s easy, and a digital message of goodwill is all it takes. Other times it’s devastating, but you soldier on. Sometimes people feel that they’re missing out on too much “at home” and the time comes to return. Sometimes they don’t have a choice. Sometimes they want to return but circumstances  say not yet. Every case is different.

Though I’ve missed out on eight years of birthdays now, eight years of celebrations, I have made it back for the occasional big event. I also acknowledge that I am profoundly lucky that my parents, and some friends, have the means and health to travel here to visit. In fact, my parents are planning a Christmas trip here this year. Not everyone has that luxury, and I’m thankful for it.

It makes it a bit easier to miss those really big milestones when you know that sooner or later you’ll be able to meet in person. Then you can celebrate the birthday, or just the circumstance of being in the same place at the same time, in whatever way you see fit.

Sunday Snapshots: Outside the Chapel

Outside Prague, 2016

A set up scene from what may go down in history as one of the most fun (and hipster) weddings of all time. There was a tattoo artist. And a band, And curry. And a giant tent to sleep in, which thankfully we skipped out on as there was a complete deluge overnight.

But… one year ago on this day I got to see one of the girls from my original gangster TEFL course marry an absolutely fantastic Czech dude in a ceremony that was incredibly fitting to the both of them. It was good times.