Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween!

cute costumes
Halloween 2010 - the only holiday we get to spend together this year.. sad, but at least we have some time together before he deploys. We will be spending our time watching football and biking along the boardwalk at the Jersey Shore.

Friday, October 29, 2010

stop sign, schmop sign

Moving to Germany and traveling throughout Europe, I noticed (over and over again) the use of traffic circles and/or round-abouts and the minimal usage of STOP signs (the town I live in has ONE, yes only one, stop sign and it was added only a year ago at a blind turn). While the Europeans use lots of YIELD signs, they also use traffic circles/round-abouts at most intersections and they are fabulous, not to mention you RARELY EVER see traffic accidents.

After driving in America once again (at these ridiculously slow speed limits - oh Autobahn, how I miss you so), I have noticed the lack of traffic circles/round-abouts while at the same time, noticing the extreme amount of traffic accidents. Coincidence? I think not. Want proof? Read the article below.

Round-abouts are newsworthy: - Ann Arbor's addition of roundabouts prove that they work, successfully minimizing traffic accidents and improving safety. Why is America the only country not using round-abouts?!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Vegetarian? Yes, Please.

One good reason to go vegetarian:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Attacked Again... this time by her Sister

Of course, the moment I get into New Jersey, I get the frantic call from meine Mutter... 'Don't panic... BUT.... we're at the vet. Boston got attacked by Riva. She bit part of Bos' ear off.' WHAT?! Are you serious?! My two favorite dogs who are best friends and spend every waking moment together, entertain each other, cuddle, and constantly have to be touching got in a fight... and one lost an ear??! What?!

It's true. Here's wounded Boston. At least it wasn't a Pit this time?

Atlantic City

Even after living in Biloxi, Mississippi, I still had this glamorized vision of what Atlantic City would be like - a nice beach, gorgeous hotels, lights, shopping, etc. Well, glitzy it is not and that's for darn sure. Try trashy, dirty, and more trashy. Granted, in the hotels/casinos, it is classy.. almost glamorous. But on the outside, ew. The hotels on the outside are unimpressive...old. The inside, however, is a completely different story - high class shops, nice restaurants, and overall aesthetically pleasing. We had a good time, but both agreed that we have no desire to go again.. ever!

Atlantic City Sunset

Sunday, October 24, 2010

varisty blues

Brett #63 - on the sidelines - Cave Spring vs. Blacksburg
running on the field
Go Brett!
on defense

on offense
Playing Center - team huddle
Game Over! It's always fun watching football, but even better when your brother plays!

Monday, October 18, 2010

pumpkin carving, tailgating, & football...

The American things we missed!

Go Hokies! Before the Game.
Ali, her pumpkin, & Shea
Allison & Allison
A's only VT football game of 2010 - VT vs. Wake
Showing off our carving skills
A with Shea after her surgery

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

the City of Light by Night

Paris, France: A Travel Recommendation

After 4 visits to 'La Ville-Lumiere' (the City of Light), I can officially give a well-rounded travel recommendation. Paris is one of my very favorite big (and I mean huge) cities. There is so much to see that one trip to Paris simply isn't enough. If you try to cram in all the tourist attractions in one visit, you may wind up getting frazzled, tired, and not enjoying the city. I suggest simply relaxing, taking in the atmosphere, people watch, and hitting SOME (NOT ALL) of the major sites - Paris is simply too beautiful to be rushed.

Where to Stay: In my past 4 visits, I've stayed all around the city. The Latin Quarter is one of my favorite places to stay - lots to do, lots of people, and a big selection of hotels. No, the Latin Quarter is no longer Bohemian central, but it does offer a good atmosphere for the weekend traveler. Rue de Rivoli is another fabulous area/street to stay, lined with lots of local cafes, restaurants, and boutiques - a perfect, picturesque street - my favorite.

Must Eat: snails, croissants, baguette, cheese, wine, crepes, and more croissants. The bread (any/all kinds - we do not discriminate) are fresh and fantastic. It may sound cliche, but I highly recommend buying some wine, cheese, a baguette, and have a picnic overlooking the Eiffel Tower - take your book, although the people watching is fabulous.

Must Do: double-decker bus tours (the best way to see all the major sites - if you try to walk the city, you'll tire quickly), Seine River Cruise at Dark (my favorite! the attractions of Paris are even more beautiful lit up at night + you get to see the Eiffel sparkle! how romantic!), picnic & people watch.

Must-See: the Arc, the Eiffel, Notre Dame (from the front & back.. inside? eh..), le Louvre, Luxembourg Gardens, Trocadero Square, Rue de Rivoli, Champs-Elysees Avenue, Catacombs, Versaille, Hotel de Invalides (only outside is necessary) & the Opera Garnier (only from the outside). Do you have time for all? Maybe. If not, see them all from the outside on your double-decker bus tour!

Not a Must-See: the Bastille (the jail/fortress itself no longer exists), Pantheon (does NOT compare to Rome), La Madeleine church

Paris: Metro Stops at Major Sites

Public transportation in Paris is wonderful - cheap and efficient. The Metro System is, however, huge and can be a little overwhelming for the first time visitor. To make it easier, here is a list of major sites in the city as they correspond with the Metro:

Arc de Triomphe: Charles de Gaulle/Etoile
Monmarte: Anvers
Catacombs: Denfert-Rochereau
Eiffel Tower: Trocadero
Grand Palais: Champs Elysees-Clemenceau
Latin Quarter: St. Michel or Odeon
Louvre Museum: Palais Royale or Louvre
Napoleon's Tomb: Invalides
Notre-Dame: Cite/Hotel de Ville/St. Michel
Pantheon: Luxembourg-Cluny

Friday, October 8, 2010

Zeit Fliegt

Packing.. packing.. and.. more.. packing.. pretty much sums up our night last night - That and our last visit to our favorite sushi spot - Sushi Trier mmm mmm!

A packing for Afghanistan. Me packing for the States. Us both packing for Paris.

Zeit Fliegt/Time Flies. It's seems like only recently we moved to Kasel-Trier and I've enjoyed almost every second of it. Let's just hope the same holds true for A's time in Afghanistan.

A prepping his BDU's
Our favorite walk spot - Really going to miss this place!
Bos helping

Thursday, October 7, 2010

the Kasel Regulars.. Continued

Previous 'Regulars' Post:

And now, a continuance, for the longer we live here, the more regulars I encounter. I will begin with my favorite regulars:

Justin, Nina, Nikole, und Oma: probably the cutest half-Romanian, half-German family on the block. 3 kids under the age of 5 that are taken care of by their Oma (Grandma). They walk by our house at least 2x/day. First, the dogs are greeted in Justin's sweet little German voice, "Hallo Bos, Hallo Riva!" Dann, ich, "Hallo Casey, meine Madchen-freund!" (he calls me his girlfriend). In his perfectly formed, slow German voice, he is one of the few people in Kasel I can understand 100% of the time - great practice for my German! He plays this game with the dogs (yes, every single time he walks by the house) - he is completely scared of them and when they're locked on the porch, he walks up full of confidence and talks to them. When they're not locked up, he walks up, slowly, one step at a time, and runs down as they near him. He'll do this over and over again until finally, Oma (his Grandma), calls him to keep walking. And then, on cue, Justin says, "Tschuss Casey, Tschuss Bos und Riva!"

Justin - sneaking up on the dogs

der Deutsche Post Man: "Azo, da sind meine madchen!" ("Oh, there are my girls!") 5 days a week, the Post Man pulls up in his bright yellow van wearing his bright yellow suit and the dogs start going crazy - they love him! He opens the porch gate and let's the dogs out to deliver the mail with him in our little courtyard, then locks them back up. Recently, he showed me pictures of his dogs - 3 Great Danes - only inside dogs - I can't imagine.

Christian: A man who lives down the street and tells me every single day that I am not American, I am from England. (He might be crazy?) Christian: "Woher kommen Sie?" Me: "Ich komme aus Amerika." Christian: "Nein, du kommst aus England. Du bist English." Me: "Nein, Ich bin Amerikanerin." Eventually, I get sick of telling him I'm American, not English, and I walk on.

Meine (only English speaking) Nachbore: A random couple that live on our street. They live on the corner and I pass them almost daily while walking the dogs. While we always exchanged greetings, we never had a conversation. At the Kasel Weinfest, we happened to sit by them (while drinking the local, amazingly delicious Riesling - which is like water around here). They strike up a conversation (auf Deutsche) and I respond, "Tut mir leid, aber ich spreche nur ein bisschen Deutsche" (I'm sorry, but I only speak a little German). Surprisingly, he responds in impeccable English! He and his wife (and probably all the other neighbors who have never spoken to us) thought we were the Ilbertz children (Axel and Michaela's), here to live by them! Funny. And in a way, yes, we are almost Ilbertz children :) I consider them family and they (at least Axel) treats us like family (constantly ordering us both around..).

Frau Scherf: Last post about the Kasel Regulars, Frau Scherf was in der krankenhaus (hospital), but now she's back.. and living on the porch (which faces our house) constantly beating her rugs out of the window and trying to teach me German (she speak not a word, not ONE WORD of English!). I amuse her by trying to tell her (auf Deutsche) what I'm going to do that day("Jetz, Ich laufe meine hunde"), and she replies by either giving me a blank face (um, I have no idea what the heck you are trying to say) or by saying "Prima!" (meaning, good job! I understood you!)
the back of the Scherf house, facing our porch

My Brat Man: While A doesn't like my possessiveness of 'my brat man,' I do, in a way, consider him MY brat man, mainly because I've done my best to make him popular and bring in the customers. The Brat Man is from Bulgaria. He has a little stand set up selling brats and beer. I don't know why, but I have a soft spot in my heart for this lonely man. He has no house and no family - lives in his broken down van, right beside his brat stand. I have to drive by him everyday on my way to the gym. Even though I'm a vegetarian, I am still drawn to the brat man to buy a brat that I either save for Alex or give to Axel. I take as many people as possible to see him and give him business, make light conversion (nur auf Deutsche), tip him, and say Bis Dann! He knows I'll be back shortly for more brats and more beer.

the Kasel Vet (tierarzt): who knows us (Bos, Riva, & ich) all too well. We have frequented him multiple times - for worms, shots, etc. Again, not a word of English. I am sure we alone reiterate the American stereotype that we Americans have crazy, undisciplined dogs and kids. Oh well.

Blumen Mann: a old man I pass almost daily walking the dogs. The first time I met him, he jibbers to me in German about how MY black dog got into HIS back yard and ate all of his flowers. Nein nein nein! I explain that my dogs are 1. always together 2. never leave my house 3. are always on a leash (kind of a lie) 4. there is another black dog that constantly runs away that lives on Neustrasse (the Ilbertz dog - Sky). 5. IT'S NOT MEIN! I SWEAR! He believes me, whew, and since that day, sits in his driveway, daily, waiting for me to pass by with the dogs so he can chat it up. Recently, he points at Boston and says, "Auf English, Black Man." I start DYING laughing. "Nein. Nicht ein black man, Black Dog! Man is Mann auf Deutsche." He starts dying laughing. He did TRY to learn some English!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Kasel Going Away Abendessen

The Girls and I
Axel & Michaela Ilbertz

Last night was our going away dinner at the Ilbertz house - too much delicious food, wine, and company. Nights like that almost make me want to stay here while Alex is gone - they're my home away from home. The Scherfs brought us some of our favorite wine and the girls framed a picture of themselves - they are dead set on visiting the States while I'm there!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Madrid, Spain: A Travel Recommendation

In September, with Hannah and John, we flew to Madrid for 3 night visit. While Madrid is a big city and the small cities are really my favorite, Madrid was a nicer big city than I was expecting. Not nearly as clean and eco-friendly as Stockholm, but it did offer a lot to do and see - a 3 day trip (with a 1 day side trip to Toledo) was perfect - enough time to see the sites, eat the food, drink the wine, and experience the night-life.

Must Eat: Sangria, Paella, Jamon Iberico, Spanish table/house wine, and Tapas including Manchego Cheese (seriously delicious) and stuffed peppers (yum).

Must See: Prado Museum, Royal Palace, Puerto del Sol, Plaza Mayor, Cathedral, Plaza del Toros (cool from the outside - just not when there's a bull fight going on inside..), a Flamenco Dance (Seville is known for Flamenco, not Madrid, but there are lots of Flamenco clubs in Madrid), and Mercado de San Miguel (by far the very best thing in Madrid - like a shaken up and way better Farmer's Market).

Mercado de San Miguel: Basically, a beefed up Farmer's Market. While fresh produce, bread, pastries, etc. were available for purchase, San Miguel offered so much more. It was an outdoor, yet indoor space with lots of booths set up throughout. Some booths sold produce to take home, while others sold tapas to eat there, wine to drink there, pastries to eat there, some tables - lots of socializing - like a gourmet farmer's market plus nightlife. Hard to explain, but awesome to experience. MUST GO!

Must NOT See: a Bull fight - definite NO GO, trust me (see previous blog post).

The best thing in Madrid deserves two pictures.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Book Recommendation

No, nothing to do with where us Rapaljes are, but just finished a great book and had to share the recommendation with any/all.

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn.

Get it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Where the Rapaljes Will Go

With our time being cut short (even if it is only for 6 months), I've started making a list of places I want to visit when we get back in May/June 2011.

For A's CAD leave (after deployment), we will be going to Greece and Turkey - Crete, Mykonos, Santorini, and Istanbul (as of now). For our 3rd anniversary, a Croatian catamaran trip (my number one place has always been Croatia - Dubrovnik and Plitvice Lakes National Park.. to start).

Other places we HAVE to visit include, but are not limited to: Copenhagen, Vienna, Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast, Capri, Scotland, an Ireland road trip, Stonehenge, the French Riviera, Tuscany, Oslo, Helsinki Finland ferry to Tallinn Estonia, Iceland, the white chalk cliffs of Germany, Zermatt, St. Anton, Hallstatt, Budapest, Lake Bled Slovenia, Malta, Cyprus, Faro Portugal, Cornwall England, the boot of Italy, Bordeaux, St. Petersburg, Poland (for me - A has been), Berlin (for A - I have been), and Venice (again.. this time not during Carnivale).

Any suggestions are more than welcome!