Friday, April 30, 2010

Discount Merchandise

What a lovely morning. I woke up to a little surprise from one of the pups. Don't know WHY I was surprised by this. Yes, they're bad when Alex is gone. Yes, they like to mess with me when he's gone. Yes, they love to leave me prizes while he's away. But YES, I was still surprised to find a little treat left by Boston (who now goes by the name of Biatch) when I woke up this morning.

And yes, I have some discount merchandise on my hands. I will pay YOU for two dogs who just loooove surprises :)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Debt = Schuld = Guilt

Quickly after arriving in Germany, you realize the money difference between Germans and Americans. They use cash. They prefer cash. While some restaurants and stores take credit cards (and I say 'some' very lightly), the majority do not.

But the biggest difference? The Germans lack of VISA/Mastercard/Discover etc. (Even my landlord, my LOADED landlord, and his family DO NOT own ANY sort of Visa/Mastercard credit card).

While cash is their main choice of payment, you will see Germans using a credit card of their own - the Sparkasse Card. This is their sort of debit card, but no, it is not a Visa/Mastercard. Sparkasse is the main German bank and they issue this sort of debit card on their own. Local groceries, stores, and restaurants always accept the Sparkasse Card.

Well.. I've seen the light... or someone showed it to me..

As someone (ahem Allison Bhatta) recently pointed out (while reading her finance text book on my deck while sunbathing), the Germans use the very same word for both debt and guilt, and that word is "Schuld." Hmm... Coincidence that the Germans use the same word for debt AND guilt AND they don't own any credit cards? I think not.

Debt = Schuld. Guilt = Schuld. Maybe us Americans should take a note or two.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

German Labor Day

Beware of mischief on German Labor Day

by Iris Reiff
52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

4/22/2010 - SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- German Labor Day is approaching when the "witches" will be strolling through town.
There is a special reason not to leave things outside and to park the car in the garage that time. It's "witches night," happening April 30, the night before "Tag der Arbeit" or Labor Day, a federal German holiday.

Starting around bedtime and until the next morning the mysterious witches are haunting the town, causing some strange things to happen.

The "witches," known to be the youngsters in town, make things disappear from one spot and show up somewhere else. In the past, witches have picked up patio furniture at one person's house and moved it into the next-door neighbor's front yard or on the roof. An American family was once looking for some toys left on the patio overnight and later found them scattered throughout the area and hanging in a nearby tree. Items that commonly disappear are flower pots, trash cans and door mats.

While it is rather difficult to prevent things from appearing in your front yard following witches night, it is fairly easy to make sure nothing disappears by moving things inside the house for the night.

Also, don't be surprised if you find your car decorated with toilet paper or other items. It is recommended to park the vehicle inside a garage if you don't want it decorated.

In the Eifel, people observe Labor Day or May Day with a variety of different customs and traditions to include witches night. The most common symbol for the holiday is the May pole, a symbol of freedom. Almost every community has their own May pole, usually set up by members of the local fire departments. Since the May pole is also an object of prestige for a town, it must be guarded around the clock during witches night to prevent against theft or destruction by neighboring village youth.

Other customs associated with May Day feature dances and celebrations in either a gasthaus or community hall. Although many of the traditions are observed by youngsters, especially bachelor's clubs, most Germans use the holiday to spend time with friends and family. People either take a trip or host a barbecue, if weather permits. It is also customary for Germans to go on a walk or volksmarch on May Day.

a Rapalje Update

We have some fun things coming up in the next month, so I thought I might as well give a family-wide update on the blog!

Alex is headed to Poland to play doctor to the pilots and fly around in F-16s. Rough life. While he's gone, I have a few things planned. First and foremost, I will be working on a massive end of the semester project for my VERY LAST Master's class (of course, still have my thesis left)! Also, I'll be going to Burgundy, France with two of my girlfriends this weekend for a wine tour and possibly a hot air balloon ride. Next weekend, Brussels. And the next week, Sardegna, Italy, again, this time with 7 other ladies (my flight was 16euros ROUNDTRIP, including all taxes and fees). How could I resist? When Alex returns, we'll be heading to Prague for a long weekend, a top destination on both of our lists.

The Volcano has really messed with the mail here, so if you've sent some recently (ahem Gpa, Bhatta, and Mom), I'll let you know when it gets here, but expect a long delay.

And in more important news, I have had the bigggggest craving for Pepperidge Farm Cheddar Goldfish and Grape Propel, which of course is nowhere to be found at the German markets or even at our small American commissary. Funny the things you miss when you're not in America.

Monday, April 26, 2010

tis the Season for Tulips

Just got back from a weekend trip to Holland. Saturday, we spent a few hours at Keukenhof Gardens, Holland. BEAUTIFUL (pictures below). Then we headed to the capital, den Haag, for the night. We both became a pretty big fan of den Haag - love the atmosphere, the food, being on bikes all the time, the beach, and more.. Pictures of den Haag to come.

Fun Fact about Keuekenhof Gardens, Holland: it is the World's Largest flower garden with 7 MILLION bulbs planted each year. WOW.

My absolute favorite part of Keuekenhof was the smell of the Hyacinth. They look nice, but MAN do they smell just amazing. I really wish I could bottle it up and take it home to share.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

the Newest Addition

No no, don't get any ideas now. I'm not talking about the newest addition to the Rapaljes, I'm talking about the newest addition to Kasel.

Yesterday, Kasel got it's first (wait for it)... and ONLY (wait for it)... Stop Sign!

Our little willage (see note below.. I did just say Willage) is growing up, right before our very eyes.

** Your German lesson for the week: A 'w' in German is pronounced as the English 'v' and a 'v' in German is pronounced as the English 'w.' That being said, it is absolutely comical to hear the Germans speaking English, especially when they say things like, "Ve go on wacation to a wery big willage, Las Wegas!"

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New in Town

For my birthday, my Mom gave me the movie "New in Town." I put it in our movie drawer and completely forgot about it until yesterday. Well, last night, over my bowl of broccoli for dinner, I put it on.

HA HA HA! Yes, it is a chic-flic ending happily ever, but it reminds me so much of myself, being "New in Town."

For starters, the weather. Renee Z. goes from HOT Miami to FREEZING Minnesota overnight, completely unprepared. Let me remind you, we moved from HOT Biloxi to FREEZING Germany.. what a change (but I will admit, not QUITE as cold as I expected...not quite as cold as Minnesota apparently, so I'll count my blessings).

Second, the language barrier... no the Minnesota accent is not a foreign language, but at times throughout the movie she could hardly understand those around her, much less relate to them. Welcome to my life.

EVERYONE and I mean EVERYONE knows who the new one in town is. Renee Z couldn't go anywhere without being recognized/spoken to/whispered about etc. Well, same goes for Alex and I (but especially me since I spend a lot more time around town). We are "THE" Americans in Kasel and everyone knows it. Good thing? Bad thing? Celebrity status?

All these similarities (not to mention the random German touches randomly thrown in throughout the movie) was meant for me to watch. Already 10 months in Germany, but as I was reminded last night, I'm still NEW IN TOWN.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

die Sonne scheint

Not to jinx das wetter, but this is the 5th (yes, make the 5th) consecutive day of sunshine in Trier (despite the volcanic ash problem in parts of Europe). I have spent every waking moment outside, be it on the porch, laufe mit meine hunde, or walking around the city, and it has been glorious. My body (ok, really only my face and arms) are normal colored again (no longer transparent from the extended period of no sunshine).

By the way, Alex found out he's going to Poland for work starting late April - anyone want to come keep me company?!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Something to Ponder

Although completely unrelated to our travels, I thought I'd share this article:

San Francisco's Meat-Free Mondays gets a shrug

By JULIANA BARBASSA, Associated Press Writer

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

(04-07) 17:25 PDT San Francisco (AP) --

First, it was a ban on plastic grocery bags, and then on mixing recycling with
compost. Now the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is asking residents to go
without meat on Mondays.

This city's latest legislative endorsement of healthy, eco-conscious living
can't stop residents from eating meat, but is meant to call attention to the
relationship between diet, health and climate change.

The measure passed Tuesday urges "all restaurants, grocery stores and schools to
offer a greater variety of plant-based options to improve the health of San
Francisco residents and visitors and to increase the awareness of the impact a
green diet would be on our planet."

It was proposed by supervisor Sophie Maxwell, who is vegetarian, but was
approved unanimously, along with a resolution praising businesses that use
cage-free eggs. Nearly a dozen residents spoke up in its favor.

Maxwell did not immediately return calls for comment.

The reasoning behind the measure — that the meat industry contributes to
environmental degradation and meat consumption can be a factor in
cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other health problems — was dismissed by
the National Meat Association, a trade group representing packers, processors,
and others in the industry.

Changing practices in countries that cut down rainforests to make room for
agriculture is a realistic solution to global warming, said Jeremy Russell, the
organization's communications director.

"But meatless Mondays... That's sort of an unrealistic request," he said.

San Francisco might be the first city in the U.S. to adopt veggie days, but the
issue has been raised elsewhere.

Last year, Baltimore's schools vowed to keep cafeteria lunches meat-free on
Mondays, joining the national nonprofit Meatless Mondays campaign associated
with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

To some in San Francisco, Meatless Monday is a welcome reminder of the small
part that residents play in solving a larger problem. Others, however, were
left asking for Supervisor-Free Fridays.

"It seems the supervisors would have better things to do — like deal with the
budget," said resident Buzz Bense, 61, as he enjoyed a pork sandwich at Memphis
Minnie's, a lower Haight barbecue joint.

San Francisco is struggling with a $483 million budget hole, according to a
recent report by budget analysts.

Glen Pritchard, about to dive into Minnie's pastrami special, said he cares
about larger issues — the environment, animal welfare — but thinks the city's
do-gooders can go too far.

"We just don't need more regulation on what people can do," he said.

Most just shrugged it off as another one of those "only in San Francisco"

"People will talk about it for a month, then it'll go away," said Kegan Riley,
28, as she flipped hot dogs at the Rosamunde Sausage Grill.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Northern Coast of Sardegna

As recommended by the National Geographic, we all five piled into a rented Fiat Punto and traveled along the very Northern Coast of Sardegna, hitting all the major spots. Here are some of my favorites from the trip!

Pocket beaches at St. Teresa

Vineyards and the sea
Ryan, Alex, Me, Sarah, Eric

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Spectacular Sardinian Sunset

Sardegna's Sunday Specialty: Sea Urchins

Wheel-barrows filled the little guys
The locals showing how it's done

Slurping it down
The guinea pigs. Yummy?

Sardegna, Italy: A Series

Well, it's official.. we are back from Sardegna and it definitely ranks among one of our "top places." It is an absolutely GORGEOUS place! We flew into Alghero, Sardegna, and our adventures, taking place along the north-western coast, included Neptune's Grotto, Capo Caccia, Castelsarda, Alghero, gelato, the millionaire square, a road trip along the Northern coast (as recommended by National Geographic), fantastic seafood, driving like the Italians, vineyards, sea urchins, olive groves, Fisherman's risotto, kiwi shaped seaweed, crystal clear water, Penne Alghero Style, local red wine, a pizzeria without pizza, and much, much more.

Since the number of photographs I took numbered in the thousands, I will posting a "Sardegna Series" over the next few days. Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

and the world traveling continues

Tomorrow, I leave the US. Roanoke to Atlanta to Frankfurt International. I am scheduled to land at Frankfurt International at 7:45 am and leave for Sardegna out of Frankfurt Hahn Airport at 3pm.. yes, the very same day. Talk about world travelers. I have had a VERY fun, eventful, busy, great trip home, but after two full weeks I am ready to see Alex, the pups, Sardegna!, and get back into "real life."

Bis Montag

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Gainesville, Georgia

Whataya Have? Whataya Have?

The gang partaking in our life long tradition
The get up. Varsity must-haves: FO (frosted orange), PC (pure chocolate), onion rings, and chilli dogs (yes, plural)
Grandma, Ali, me
When in Atlanta, eat at the Varsity.