Sunday Snapshots: Prost!

Watch the bottom right corner… wait for it…

Munich, 2011

And Prost!

Munich, 2011

Ah yes, it’s a mere six days until the first barrel of Oktoberfest 2017 is tapped, and I have no doubt that the residents of Munich are battening down the hatches (or searching for last-minute flights) to escape the onslaught.

I’m not sure a visit is in the cards for me this year, and to be honest, since I haven’t purchased the deer-covered Dirndl I fell slightly in love with last month, it’s okay. I can hold out for now. But if you are planning on going and need something to wear, allow me to direct you to some other ladies who have you covered with everything you need to know about Dirndl…

Starting Over in Stuttgart: The Dirndl – An Explanation

Starting Over in Stuttgart: 5 tips for buying your first Dirndl

Now that you know what to look for, have a look here for some truly gorgeous fashion if you’re looking for something a bit more unique…

Arts in Munich: What to wear to Oktoberfest

Happy shopping and festing!

Advertisements

The Quest for Balance Continues…

Another year, another May come and gone like a flash. Once again, it’s been weeks since my last non-Sunday photo post… sorry about that! While I don’t want to be a blogger who just posts for the sake of posting, I also feel out of sorts when I don’t update here on a regular basis. I think I’m doomed to float through the blogosphere always feeling like I lack on one end or another.

Buuuuut that seems a little dark, so let’s pick it up a bit. Things have been pretty busy around here, but there have been a lot of positives lately.

Work:

~2016 shall henceforth be known as the year when everyone decided they wanted English lessons again. Even May, which is notoriously full of public holidays and thus rough for us freelancers, ended up being pretty good. I picked up some filler classes and some new regular groups as well. At the moment I’m working four or five days a week, which is more than I’ve had in the last two years. Plus, my commutes are pretty scenic these days.

~BV is busy working away on his Master’s thesis at the moment. The original plan was for him to be finished sometime in July, but after evaluating the project’s status, he decided to push the deadline to mid-August. And thus, no fun shall be had until then. Maybe. We’ll see.

Life:

~May didn’t end up being quite as busy as last year, but since I was working more, and BV was in a thesis-induced panic, that was a good thing. We celebrated BV’s birthday with a few days in Munich, and also spent a weekend in Prague to see one of my old friends get married. Coincidentally, another friend was getting married the same day, and we ran smack into their party at dinner the night before. Sometimes Prague is a ridiculously small town, but we were very happy to get the chance to say congrats in person.

Balance:

~Both of us being gone more has meant that Marry die Katze has been upping her codependency game. It’s sweet when she comes to cuddle at 4am, but I’m trying to make sure that we both make an extra bit of time to play with her when we are home. Additionally, she’s been slightly nuttier than usual every time the weather changes, which has been roughly every ten minutes for the last few weeks.

She is the worst at posing. And the best at rubbing on your shoes.

She is the worst at posing. And the best at rubbing on your shoes.

~This year we discovered the absolute best defense against Mondays, and it’s called The Wine Show. It airs in the UK on Sundays but we’ve been watching it online the following evening. It’s pretty much all the best parts of travel shows and food shows + wine + British accents + lots and lots of HD shots of the Italian countryside. I recommend pairing it with a semi-fancy bottle of wine, and one of your favorite recipes. Mondays no longer suck in this house.

~Every now and then on this blog I’ve written about the fact that I am a total spaz when it comes to exercising. However, since learning last year that I have a thyroid problem, I figured that it’s probably best to stop buying Haribo crap on a thrice-weekly basis and move my butt slightly more. Starting at the beginning of the year, I’ve slowly been getting into yoga. I recognize that it’s not going to make me lose a ton of weight, but I like it, it feels good, I’m sleeping better, and as someone who is not at all flexible, I can actually see myself making teensy tinesy bits of progress which is encouraging. If anyone is thinking of giving it a try, my gateway was doing the 30-day challenge on Do You Yoga, and that led me to Bad Yogi. I’ve tried quite a few of the different yoga channels on YouTube, but thus far, Erin Motz (the Bad Yogi) is by far my favorite. The only downside is that most of her videos on YouTube are in the 10-15 minute range, so I’ve been doubling up and doing two or three per day. I doubt I’ll actually be doing headstands anytime soon, but Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that jazz.

That’s about all I’ve got for now, but I’m hoping to get myself onto a regular posting schedule soon (I also have a new planner which should help with that… yay for organization!), and also get back to reading and commenting on all the lovely blogs I follow. As always, it’s good to have goals.

One Night in Munich

Whew. I’m on a slight high right now because I just finished booking a stream of AirBnbs for our Italian vacation in June. It has been entirely too long since either BV or I had a decent holiday, and the stress level around here lately has really gotten out of hand. He’s on the verge of starting his Master  project, and I’m trying to keep him from jumping out the window as a result. Needless to say, June cannot come fast enough.

Lest anyone think that we don’t have ANY fun, I thought that I’d share a rundown of our trip over Easter weekend. Originally we wanted to really “go away,” but family stuff on Friday and Monday ruled out anything too far. Instead, we hopped a south-bound train and spent some time in Munich. At this point, I’ve been there quite a lot (insert jaded traveler voice here), and so visiting the Hofbräuhaus isn’t top of the list, and we blow past the Glockenspiel photographers in Marienplatz as quickly as we can. So what was on our itinerary?

We arrived at the station about 2pm, and headed towards our AirBnb near the northern cemetery. After a quick inspection of the apartment, we decided to get out of the rain and visit the Neue Pinakothek, a large art museum that neither of us had been to before. We hadn’t really done any research on it, so neither of us knew exactly what they had and we were really impressed by the collection. There were a number of German painters that I had never heard of before, and some really beautiful work. In addition, there were also select pieces from the Alte Pinakothek on display, as parts of that are currently under renovation. They had some Van Gogh and Monet, which I am a sentimental sucker for, but they also had some more unusual things…

That woman looks like a total badass, and those goats appear to be delightfully mischievous. Photo-worthy, at least for me.

The Neue Pinakothek closed at 6, and since our dinner reservation wasn’t until 10, we needed to kill some time. Rain was still drizzling down, so sadly Munich’s wonderful biergarten were not an option. We wandered back to Odeonsplatz and resolved to find a bar to have a drink and a snack. My evil plan was to subtly steer BV back towards a cocktail bar that we had found on our last trip, but we both got distracted by the sign for the Pfälzer Residenz Weinstube, aka, a wine restaurant in the old palace. Sold.

We stayed there for about two hours, and slowly the crowd around us changed from tourists in rain gear to Munich’s well-dressed older residents. We felt slightly underdressed, but a delicious bottle of Auxerrois, and some bread and cheese helped to dull the sensation.

Sorry about the thumb. My iPhone photo skills severely deteriorate after a bottle of wine.

With almost two hours still to kill, we decided to walk off our wine buzz on the way to the Tap House. I’m not saying it makes sense. But I had recently downloaded the Untappd app (heatherinde, if anyone else is on there), and the app was directing me to craft beers. I was powerless. We neglected to remember that Munich is slightly more spread out than we’re used to, and so the walk was actually a refreshing 30+ minutes. Oh well. There were many pages of delicious beers to choose from, and just enough time to drink one and make the (much shorter) walk to the restaurant.

easterwk5This was BV’s choice. It tasted like more.

Only one beer was not nearly enough at that time, but since it had been so hard to get a reservation, we were not about to miss it. Shortly before 10pm, we walked over to the tram and rode to the restaurant. I had heard rumors about a place called the Burger House, and our trip mission was to verify its awesomeness. We were not disappointed. They have four locations in Munich, and are in high demand. It was a Saturday, I know, but when I tried making online reservations at some of the locations, they gave me options for Wednesday the following week…. damn. After much refreshing and trying of different times, we got in for 10pm. When we arrived, the place was packed and smelled friggin’ amazing. I needed the menu for all of five seconds before deciding on a truffle burger and sweet potato fries. BV ordered a burger with mozzarella, rucola, and tomato, and added truffles to his as well.

easterwk6Burger House for the win. Seriously. They were fantastic, and I will be back just as soon as I’m in Munich again.

Stomachs full, we walked back to the Tap House. I was not kidding when I said that those beers tasted like more.

The menu at that place is seriously out of hand. They have so many choices that it’s a bit overwhelming. Luckily, all their staff are beer sommeliers – apparently that’s a thing – and are happy to help you. In the above photo, you can see me enjoying a beer that I chose based on a different level of expertise. The tap it came from had antlers on it, and that made my decision. I don’t remember the name beyond the word “Holz” (wood), but I will remember the tap and the tastiness. And in the other photo, keen-eyed Midwesterner’s might recognize the logo for Milwaukee’s own Lakefront Brewery. Unfortunately the Tap House doesn’t have any of their beers, but our server said it was a future possibility.

Sunday morning I woke up early and feeling like a million bucks – basically unheard of – and BV was not moving. Apparently I should spend more time drinking beers with high percentage levels. We thought that we could leave when we wanted, but then I got a late-notice message from our AirBnb host that said she needed us to vacate the place by noon after all. That was actually a pretty good thing, because I’m not sure BV would’ve gotten his ass up if we hadn’t needed to go.

After packing up our gear, we decided to celebrate Easter Sunday by going for a traditional Bavarian breakfast of Weißwurst, pretzels, and beer. But on Easter Sunday, our options were limited as quite a few places were closed when we walked by. We ended up in the Weisses Bräuhaus, which I had heard was a good place to get Bavarian breakfast, but we were too late. They had other food though, have no fear. Because a lot of places were closed, the restaurant was packed and we ended up sharing the Stammtisch table with two gentlemen in Lederhosen and magnificent hats, and two tourists from Argentina.

A little hair of the dog for BV was just the ticket. Or it was the massive pork dish that he wolfed down… hard to say.

easterwk11For some reason, I really loved this painting on the way to the restrooms. Maybe it was the beers.

With our remaining afternoon, we decided to go out to Schloss Nymphenburg, and take a walk around their park. We slowly made our way back to the main station to store our backpacks, stopping for photos of sunny streets and coffee. Thank you Starbucks, for not being observant of religious holidays.

easterwk12Daffodils in spring are the best. Plus, there were way less people in my way than on Saturday.

Schloss Nymphenburg has a huge park, and we were not the only ones that thought it’d be a nice place for an Easter stroll. Kids, dogs, touristy couples, and buses lined the way around the lake in front of the palace, and the back gardens were no less busy.

Neither the visitors nor the swans pay any attention to the signs saying not to feed them. Many of the people we saw were carrying huge bunches of mistletoe, fallen from the trees in the park. I always thought mistletoe was more of a Christmas plant, but hey, what do I know?

easterwk15With our train time approaching, we left the Schloss and went back to wait for the tram. While there, I spotted this big news story…

easterwk16What stories could a 61-year old Easter rabbit tell? We didn’t buy the paper, so I guess now we will never know.

Short but sweet, Easter weekend in Munich was very enjoyable. Every time I go there I see more and more things I want to do on the next trip. It’s a good thing that it’s only a shortish train ride away!

Go to these places… let’s keep them in business!

Tap House Munich

Burger House Munich

2014 Recapped

Pro tip: if you’re looking to start a diet in the new year, I highly recommend living in a town where even the Shell gas station is closed on New Year’s Day, thus preventing you from buying delicious, delicious, salty chips to sate your slight hangover.

If you haven’t guessed from the previous statement, I did not draft this post in advance before happily driving off to Italy for the holiday. Sadly any thumbs that were pressed did not help my letter to arrive in time, and so here I sit, ready to look back at the last year.

January

January was pretty quiet, except for one weekend spent in Prague visiting my sister who was on her TEFL course. We had a great time hanging out with her and revisiting some of my favorite haunts. It was a great weekend away, apart from the last couple of hours.

Holly and I in Praha

Holly and I in Praha

February

Holly visited us for a week after she finished up with her TEFL course. While she was here, we visited Bamberg, and went down to Munich to meet up with one of her friends. Holly also helped us pick out a cat at the Nürnberg Tierheim, and thus Marry die Katze joined our family. I got to spend an afternoon with a childhood friend, who stopped in Nürnberg for some lunch on her Euro trip. We hadn’t seen each other (minus on the Facebox, of course), since our epic high school French trip of 2001, and it was great to catch up a bit.

March

Spring came fairly early this year, with crocuses pushing up through the grass in March, and even late in February. We took a few drives to the Franconian Switzerland, and I got acquainted with some of the walking paths around our little village.

April

The weather continued to be lovely, so we started on our garden. We also took the first hike of the year, and took BV’s little brother along to experience his first mountain shelter stay. He learned that a Maß tastes better at the top, and that I rarely lose at Egyptian Rat Screw. I had a fairly disastrous interview, but at least I got my first interview for a German job out of the way. My sister left the US to start her own English-teaching adventure in South Korea. She has a blog, which you can find here. Maybe if she gets some more hits, she’ll update the damn thing once in a while. (Hint, hint, hint, Holly.)

May

We spent some more time wandering through the Franconian Switzerland, and enjoyed testing out our new camera. BV decided that a study break was much needed for his birthday, so we hopped the border to spend a weekend in Strasbourg. It was my first time back to France since the high school trip, and the macaroons alone made it worth the while!

June

Fest season was in full swing in June, and we visited our local Kirchweih, plus the famous Erlangen Berg, and a beer fest in Nürnberg. The US played Germany in the World Cup, and we cheered on both sides in one of my favorite beer gardens in the city. Germany of course won, and BV got a nice bottle of whisky out of the deal.

July

I lost more classes in July, but the plus side is that I don’t have to wake up at 5:30 on Thursdays anymore. Silver linings, and all. The rest of the month was too busy to be working more anyway. My parents ended their week-long cruise up the Danube from Budapest here in Nürnberg, and stayed in Germany with us for a week. We showed them many castles on many hills, and spent time in Würzburg, Cologne, and Neustadt an der Weinstrasse. We took a trip down to the Weltenburger Kloster for a little hiking on a hot day, and back to the Franconian Switzerland for more hot climbs uphill. After far too many trips to the OBI, we finally decided to build a bookshelf in the office, which Marry die Katze claimed as her personal playground. My friend E was back in Germany for a hot minute, so we got caught up and even staged a castle garden photoshoot to work on my portfolio.

August

Another fairly busy month, starting with a visit to the Oberpfalz and our village friends. As per usual, it was a house full of friends, family, critters, and interesting talks. It’s good to know that there are people who are fully prepared with an action plan for the zombie apocalypse. We did a little hiking, and rented kayaks for a trip down a river to beat the heat. A random Tuesday was spent in Munich, visiting the German National Museum and the Residenz with a friend. My 31st birthday meant a weekend escape to Salzburg (out of phone service), and a little hiking on the Untersberg.

September

WEBMU finally came to Nürnberg with a side trip to Bamberg, and I enjoyed spending a couple of days with some fellow expats. BV and I celebrated our second anniversary, and we stopped by the Altstadtfest, to see what the old farmers were getting up to this year. I started teaching a new conversation course for our local VHS, and now get to spend Tuesday evenings with a chatty bunch of folks. The third round of Residence Permit Rodeo began, and I had no idea what was coming.

October

A college friend of mine flew to Munich with his girlfriend, so BV and I took the train down to meet them and hang out at Oktoberfest for the day. They came up to Nürnberg a few days later, and we got to show them around our area. We showed them the city, and more castles on hills in the Franconian Switzerland, before they headed off to Prague to continue their European tour. We tried to go somewhere new for our last hike of the year, but last-minute plans meant that everything was already full or closed. Instead of something new, we revisited the Hochries, where we were earlier in the year. The golden autumn lasted just long enough for us to get up and down the mountain. I finally picked up some new classes from another school, and my Thursday afternoons are now in Bad Windsheim, train strikes or not.

November

BV and I hopped a train down to Munich yet again, this time to see a Richard Avedon exhibit in its last weeks. The exhibit was wonderful, and we spent the rest of the day walking through the city enjoying the golden light and warm temperatures. A friend of mine met us for dinner, happily we caught her in Munich right before she was planning on moving back to Erlangen!  The rest of the month was pretty quiet, and ended with us hosting our third Thanksgiving for a very full house of friends.

December

Another year, another busy last month. This was the first month I was officially insured in Germany, so bring on the injuries! Originally we had planned to visit the Christmas market in Dresden with BV’s mom. She changed her mind though, and now we’ll probably get up there sometime next spring or summer. Cancelling that trip gave us a free weekend though, which was much needed. Another weekend was spent back in the Oberpfalz with the villagers, making Christmas cookies with the kids, and enjoying some home cooking from Costa Rica. The weekend before Christmas, we drove down to Salzburg for the night, to visit their Christmas market, and soak up some more of the delicious Salzburg-ness of the city. Happily we didn’t have to do any more traveling for our holiday celebrations; BV’s mom came to us on Christmas Eve for some rouladen and spinach dumplings. The first Christmas Day was spent with his dad, brother, and a very delicious goose. That was it for this year’s activities, and we laid low until last night. Much like last year, we started NYE at the world’s largest Feuerzangenbowle, but this year we were smart enough to skip the extra shot, and didn’t go back there after dinner. Dinner was Greek again this year, and we left just too late to catch the last train. We wandered around Fürth, drank another beer at one of the last open bars, and finally taxied ourselves back home just about 5am.

Talking at dinner last night, we decided that the year wasn’t particularly good or particularly bad, but leaned more positive. There are a lot of things that I’d like to do in 2015, and I’m hoping that we laid some groundwork for more travel plans last night. Someone in Berlin owes me a week in Italy, that’s for sure. 2015 will bring thesis time for BV’s Master program, so I’m sure there will be a fair amount of stress to come this year, but I’m optimistic that we can find a good balance.

Here’s hoping that 2015 finds everyone reading this happy, and healthy. May I offer a virtual cheers/prost, to the year ahead. A big thanks to all of you for following along!

Grab Your Maß… and a Mop

This past weekend was the opening of yet another Oktoberfest. Last year, I was there on opening day, and some of you may recall my “before-and-after” pictures on Instagram. If not, here you go…

Because I wasn’t there, I only got to hear about the various shenanigans on the radio. On Saturday, the DJs were having an absolute field day making fun of the Munich mayor, who traditionally opens the fest by tapping the first keg in the Schottenhamel tent. What was so funny? Well apparently, the poor mayor took four whole hits to tap the keg. In his defense, he is a new mayor, and now I guess he knows to do some more arm exercises before the opening ceremony next year.

The radio wasn’t the only place where a few jokes were going around. BV’s university group has a ongoing group chat going, and they often send funny pictures and videos to each other. After the opening ceremony, this one got sent around, and I’d like to share it with you all as well. It’s in German, but you really don’t need to understand much here.

 

Where I’m from, we call that a party foul. As long as the mayor can avoid doing something like that, I think he’s doing okay.

As for me, I’m not planning on any serious festing this year… but that can always change. I may have to grab my Maß at some point in 2014. I just hope I can remember the words to “Sweet Caroline”…

Did you get to opening day?

Sisterly Visits

Since I moved abroad, I think I’ve been pretty lucky with visitors. Oddly enough, more people want to visit someone living in Europe than someone in say… Omaha. At least, I’m guessing so. Back in February, my sister visited us for a week. Her Euro-trip was even dual purpose, as she took the same TEFL course that I did, exactly five years later, and then hopped the border to see us. I hate to say that a week is a short trip, but it really is. There’s so much to see and do around here, that it’s hard to make a plan. Add to that the fact that I needed to work, and well… she’s just going to have to come back so we can do more fun stuff.

We thought some day trips would be a good idea, and one of our options was Bamberg. I’ve only been there once before, if you don’t count train stop overs, which meant there was something to see for both of us. We started off the day at a bakery, so Holly could get a taste of the Krapfen while they were still in season. After that, we wandered through downtown, stopping for photo ops on the river with the Alte Rathaus, or old city hall.

We continued our walk up the hill to check out the Dom (cathedral), the Residenz (palace), and have a nice wander around. The cathedral was fairly impressive, and we took many photos of half-timbered loveliness. Even gray days looks better with half-timbered buildings in them.

At this point, we were a bit chilly and decided it was time to head inside. We decided to check out the tour of the Bamberg Residenz, and joined the next group which was starting in just a few minutes. The tour was only in German – perhaps in the busier season or on different days they have English – but we managed just fine. There was English material available in each of the different rooms to read, and I tried to supplement with my limited German. If it’d been more complicated subject matter than furniture styles, family relationships, and various kings/emperors, I probably would’ve had issues. But I was all over the various kinds of chairs in the rooms. No problem.

Sorry about the blurriness of the second picture. I was really trying to get a quick picture of the awesome unicorn before someone spotted me.

After the tour, we continued our walk up the hill to the Kloster Michaelsberg, which can be seen in the garden photo above. We were hoping for a nice view and maybe somewhere to eat, but weren’t able to find anything open for us. We wandered back down the hill and found a good German restaurant where Holly could experience her first Rauchbier, or smoked beer. This is a particular specialty in Bamberg, and a very divisive one as well. It tastes a lot like eating some kind of pork product, thus neatly eliminating the need to order an actual meal. We were pretty hungry though, so we indulged in some food as well as our liquid lunch. I’m a big fan of the Rauchbier, and Holly was as well, so we made a stop on the way back to the station to pick up some for her to take home to America. If they made it there, I can’t say for sure.

The next few days of her visit were spent kicking around the house, making many visits to the Tierheim in Nürnberg while we tried to decide on a cat, and Holly even joined me for a day at “work.” It’s quite useful having a visitor come to an English class because that meant I hardly needed to do anything. I pretty much said, “Okay guys, talk to our guest,” and off they went. You can’t go wrong with that… plus that way Holly could see what an English class can be like. Since she’s going to be heading to Korea soon, I thought that’d be useful. German engineers are pretty much the same as little Korean kids, right? Either way, it was entertaining.

The following Saturday we decided to train it down to Munich for the day. A friend of Holly’s from her TEFL course was also staying in the area, and we planned to meet up and see what there was to see. I’ve been to Munich about 85 times now, and I finally feel like I know my way around. Or, at least around the major tourist area, which is good enough for a day trip.

As per usual on a Saturday morning, we had a Bayern Ticket-packed train. The typical groups of hikers, families, and bachelor parties joined us for the ride, enjoying the sun as it streamed through the windows. We had a truly glorious sunny day, and everyone was taking advantage of it. After we arrived, we collected Holly’s friend, and headed for the center. We stopped off at Marienplatz, and then wandered through the Viktualienmarkt, a huge open-air market selling everything from fresh-squeezed juice, to soap, to arts and crafts. I wanted to check out a store in the area, and then we decided it was beer o’clock. What can I say… all the smells of sausage in the air make people thirsty.

Naturally when you’re in Munich and it’s a gorgeous day outside, one of the best places to head is the huge park, the Englischer Garten. Just follow the signs for the Chinese tower and you’ll find half of the city lounging around with jackets undone and faces turned to the sun. All the food and drink stands were open for business, and when we arrived it was still easy to get a seat. A few hours (and beers) later, it was a lot more crowded, so it pays to start early!

hollys visit3The rest of the day was pretty much spent beer-hopping around town. Holly’s friend requested that we visit the Hofbräuhaus, because even though she was thinking she might stay around Munich, her current host was not a beer drinker and she wanted to seize the opportunity. We couldn’t really argue with that, and off we went. Things started to get a little sillier there… and Holly’s friend Duck came out to play.

Duck has many adventures in the world; Korea should probably look out for him.

We left the Hofbräuhaus and went in search of dinner at the Augustiner Bräustuben. After a much-needed walk, and a few laps around the restaurant, we managed to grab a seat. There was more beer, delicious German food, and then it was time to pack it in. We had to catch a fairly early train, so we decided it was best to get to the station sooner than later, and we could just hang out there. With more beer. And jewelry shopping. Because that’s what you do in train stations.

Like I said at the beginning, seven days just isn’t enough time to fit in everything you might want to do around here. The good news is, we have more things to do on Holly’s next visit. The bad news is, we have no idea when that might be. Hopefully we at least got enough beer and pretzels to tide her over for awhile. Come back soon, Squeaky!