Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Regulars

Kasel, our village just outside of Trier, is like a little neighborhood with it's own bakery, bank, grocery, restaurants, and the like. Being home almost every day during the week and walking the dogs in both the morning and afternoon, I run into the Kasel 'regulars' daily.

Herr Scherf - 'the neighbor': 80+ year old. Nicest man you'll ever meet, or so I can gather.. he doesn't speak a word of English. He speaks to me in German as if I understand completely which has taught me a few key phrases, such as how to say "I'm going for a run," "I'm walking my dog," "I'm going to the baker," "how's the weather?" and the like. We had our deepest conversation on day when I had too much time to kill (the usual), Alex was out of town for work, and I tried to converse this (in German) to Herr Scherf. He understood! And proceeded to tell me (in German) that he knew how I felt, for his wife was sick and in the hospital, and at least I had my dogs at home to love me.

Axel - 'the landlord': the stereotypical, non-working, smoke 10 packs a day, wheeler-dealer, i love to walk around in my speedo in the summer-time, German. He rents his properties to Americans only, making bank off of the AF (Americans pay tons more in rent than the Germans). He wakes up when he wants, lounges around, smokes his cigs, and leaves the house conveniently everyday before 2 o'clock, when his wife gets back from work.

Micael - 'the American': the ONLY other American in Kasel. Nice girl, my age, comes over for football games, coffee dates, and goes out with us on the weekends. She's being deployed soon for 6 months. Bummer.

Jill and Sveni - 'the German, wanna-be American, teens': landlord's daughter and her bffreunde who lives across the street. They keep the dogs while we travel in exchange for American money, American food, or American clothes. Our house is their first stop when getting home from school, just to tell me about their day, complain about their parents, tell me about their weekend plans (the Germans have so much more freedom than we did as teens) and drink a 'green soda.'

the 'po-boys': the ONLY poor folk in all of Kasel. Upon my moving in, one of the first things I accomplished was hitting their fence with my car. Nothing a case of beer couldn't fix. They just might be from Biloxi, but haven't quite figured it out yet.

the Postman: Bos and Riva greet him daily with harmless barks and lots of butt-shaking. He walks up to the porch, lets the dogs off the porch to escort him to the other mailboxes. On his way back up, puts them back up on the porch and says good-bye. Because of the Postman, Bos and Riva know almost as much German as me!

the Baker: Bos, Riva, and I walk by the bakery once daily. When the baker sees us through the window, she comes out, says hi, and tries to convince me to buy a schoko-croissant and a cup of coffee. I fall prey to her persuasive ways at least once a week.

the Bernese: a family that lives down the street has my absolute favorite kind of dog in the world, a Bernese mountain dog. He stays off the leash and on the front porch of his house, only leaving to greet dogs walking by, including Bos and Riva. When Bhatta visited and we first moved in, we met the Bernese for the first time. Given Boston's history with being attacked by large dogs, Bhatta decided to take off running down the hill with Boston. The Bernese came running after, as you would anticipate he might. Come to find out, he only wanted to play with and slobber all over my dogs. On a side note, Alex promised me that I could have my dream dog only if we moved to Alaska or Germany. HA. Guess you know what our next addition will be:)

the 'Patriot': A lady who lives down the street quickly learned that my German was sub-par. She has proceeded to tell me every day since the first day I met her how hard the German language is to learn, but how necessary. I only figured out what she was saying one day when the girls, Jill and Sveni, were on a walk with me. I converse with the 'Patriot' in the same way I converse with most Germans, by nodding my head, smiling, saying 'Ja, ja,' and giving a slight chuckle.

the Rotts: NOT Boston and Riva's friends, and let's just leave it at that.

the Crazy Cat man: A neighbor that lives a few doors down. He is always, and I mean always, outside with his best friend, his cat. He is constantly jibbering German to that cat, especially when he sees my dogs, I would guess asking them something about the big scary dogs, etc.

the 'bia' that hates Bos & Riva: A sour old woman who owns an overgrown empty lot down the street that dogs walking by do their business in. By dogs, I mean all dogs, not just mine. Boston and Riva had a tendency to pee there on the walk home. This quickly came to an end when she left a bag of dog poop on my front porch. Two can play at that game.. and have. Enough said.

Junge: the happiest 6 year old boy you'll ever meet. Lives down the street. Outside playing until dark no matter the day, no matter the temperature. He think it's cool that we speak English and they learn English in school, however this boy has NOT learned his English. His teacher would be disappointed.

the Crazy man who lives with his Mom: On a daily basis, this man tries to tell me about some magic cards he has hidden in his pocket or how young women shouldn't smoke or how the Canadiens are out to get me. He's about 50, lives with his Mom, and is absolutely nuts. The key is to NEVER ask him a question. You'll just egg him on and provoke more talk, which trust me, you don't want to hear and cannot understand.

the Dog-Lover/Axel's Mom: The 'dog-lover' lives down the street and has a black lab named Axel (yes, same as our landlord). Everyday, on her drive to and from work or errands or wherever she goes, if Bos & Riv are out on the porch, she pulls over, gives them dog treats, and leaves. At first, it freaked me out. I thought maybe the 'bia' was trying to poison them, but alles klar! She's just a dog lover.

Mill Mountain Coffee & Tea taught me that there's something to be said for 'the regulars,' and Kasel's regulars have not disappointed.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Go Colts!

Big game tonight and good news, it is on TV here!! WOOHOO! While AFN (Armed Forces Network) disappoints daily with terrible and ancient TV shows, it does it's duty with showing as many sporting events as possible! We will have some friends over for chilli, wings, and football! Go Colts!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

First Flight?

Today is SUPPOSED to be (weather permitting.. it has been snowing A LOT) Alex's first F-16 flight at Spangdahlem. While he flew at AMP and Top Knife, he has yet to fly with one of the fighter squadrons on base (lots of paper work and flight suit fitting pre-flight, which is finally done!). Wish him luck! And look up, you might see him in the sky!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Oh Say Can You See

Saturday night was our first American date night since moving to Germany.

Included in our American night was American flavored Coke in a can (as opposed to the 6oz glass bottle German flavored Coke - yes it tastes different, trust me), a newly released movie in ENGLISH as opposed to that German mumbo jumbo (we saw Avatar on base), the 'Star Spangled Banner' (plays on base before every movie, everyone stands at attention/crossed hearts, very patriotic), and Chex Mix. The night concluded with Campbell's tomato soup and live ACC basketball! I always LOVE watching pukey Duke get beat down by any Tech team (GT or VT!).

Friday, January 8, 2010

Soon to be Deutsch

Eine deutsche Klasse fur die Frauen.

After exploring a few different options for learning German, I decided to sign up for a free class offered in downtown Trier. The class is offered twice a week, two hours a class, from January through July, for women only. Supposedly, the class mainly consists of Polish and Russian lower-income women, who moved here for work, but can't until they are fluent in German.

The only language spoken in the class is German (NO ENGLISH!), so it should be interesting!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy Birthday, Riva!

And I forgot to mention, today is little Riva's very first birthday!

No Longer the ONLY Americans

We have a new neighbor!

Our house is one of the three cute little houses that share an outdoor area. There were Germans living in both of the other houses, one family being my landlord and his family, and the other being some crazy family that spoke not a word of English. Well, the crazies moved out and an American moved in! Funny story, though.

My landlord asked me to post the house online for possible AF residents. I did and got multiple responses. I did some detective work on the people asking about the house, just to see who I would, and would not, like as neighbors. Well, someone emailed me named Micael Nash. They were very interested in the house, especially because of it's close proximity to Trier. We emailed back and forth multiple times before they g-chatted me. We got to talking one night about Trier, the house, living here, neighbors, etc., when the person said, "hey, i'd love to meet you. Would you like to get coffee this Saturday morning?" Alex, at the time, was still in the U.S. and I'm thinking, hmm, do I really need to mention AGAIN that I'm married (at this point, I had dropped husband, I'm married, etc. multiple times - I mean, the person's name was MICAEL). I divert the question, start talking about something else. Then, Micael asks me the address and turns out, had already been shown the house by the real estate agent. So then, Micael asks, have many people looked at the house? Yes, I answer, a few, and a 24 year old girl saw it just this morning (my landlord told me - I never met the person seeing the house). Micael said, "Yea, that was me!" I respond, "WHAT?! Micael?! You're a girl?! Oh my gosh, I am SO sorry. I thought you were a guy and I TOTALLY was throwing 'husband' out there very other sentence and diverted the coffee question because I thought you were some creepster guy. YES, I would love to get coffee on Saturday (of course, this was 15 minutes AFTER she asked)."

We got coffee, she (not he) moved in, and yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have my first friend that is MY age!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


I have been looking forward to visiting Neuschwanstein, or the ‘Disney’ Castle for a long time now. The major tourist destination was an easy stop on our way home from Austria, or so we thought, so we planned the trek.

Mistake number 1: visiting the tourist trap on the Sunday, after New Years. The entire area was swamped with tourists, Germans, Austrians, and Italians alike.

Mistake number 2: DRIVING to the destination. We could barely move in our car seeing as the tourists swamped the roads on foot. Also, the price for parking was obscene.

Mistake number 3: Going. With 2 other castles in close proximity, actually in sight, Neuschwanstein is by far the least exciting. I kept looking at it saying, ‘Really? Are you serious? That’s IT?! That can’t be it!’

Yes, the castle has an interesting history with Mad King Ludwig ordering someone to paint the dreamed up castle, then having an architect build the painted version, building the castle for years, going crazy (hence the nickname ‘Mad’), living there for less than a year, being forced to leave, and dying (murder or suicide?) only days later. BUT, I would advice you read Ludwig’s history and look at a picture of Neuschwanstein (or in my book, the greatest European let-down) online, NOT make a trek there. There are so many other great tourist attractions, castles included, to visit in Germany or Europe.

Needless to say, Neuschwanstein is a Neusch-waste-of-time.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Innsbruck, Austria

Salzburg, Austria

An Austrian Excursion

While studying in Switzerland, I never made it to Austria, so the country ranked high on my list of places to go. Since Alex was on call for Christmas, we decided to make the trip over New Years. I booked a hotel in Salzburg for 3 nights, including New Years Eve, a Mozart concert in Salzburg, and then 2 more nights in Innsbruck. Great choices, if I do say so myself.

Salzburg is absolutely gorgeous, surrounded by snowy Alps, and filled with lots of must-see sights. The area was packed with Italian vacationers, a very nice change from our usual burly Germans. The Mozart dinner and concert in the Hohensalzburg Fortress finished off the trip perfectly. Our friends, the Krautheims, came with us and were a lot of fun!

On New Years Day we drove to Innsbruck, Austria, to meet two other friends, Andrea and Zach (a couple we met at Oktoberfest who are a ton of fun, but unfortunately live about 3 hrs. from Trier). Innsbruck is an adorable little ski town, also surrounded by picturesque snowy Alps. We took an awesome gondola ride for great views on the first day. Day two was spent skiing and drinking Austrian beer in Axams, Austria, with Zach and Andrea.

An all around good time had by all, so good that in fact, we planned a Martin Luther King long-weekend ski-vacation in Garmisch, Germany, with Zach, Andrea and all three of the pups!