Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving in Germany

Unlike Halloween, Thanksgiving is not really on the German radar at all. So when hubby went back to the U.S. last month, we had him bring the necessary items for an American Thanksgiving feast. Turkeys they have here...I was surprised that it was already all trussed up and even had the little "pop-up it's done" thingy on it. I had brought our Turkey Roasting pan from America, so we were all set with that.

Hubby was assigned to bring back Libby's Pumpkin, Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce, Arnold's Corn Bread Stuffing Bread cubes, and Karo Corn Syrup (for Pecan Pie).

Germans do not have frozen pie crusts at their grocer's freezer and do not sell pie pans! We had one with us and used a tart pan for the other pie.

We ended up having:
  • Turkey
  • Giblet gravy
  • Cornbread Stuffing
  • Baby Peas
  • Broccoli
  • Crescent Rolls
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Fruit Salad
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Pecan Pie

I discovered at the last minute that the stuffing pan would not fit in the oven with the we asked our Landlord/Neighbor if we could use her oven. As we were eating earlier it was not a problem.

The only nod to Germany was that we used Nuremberger sausages in the stuffing instead of Jimmy Dean!

(unfortunately picture was taken after turkey was carved)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ruine Neideck

It was getting to be fall time here in Franconia and I was itching to get out and enjoy the autumnal splendor. I wanted to go on a hike but god-forbid I make my girls go on a I said How about we go on a "Photography Expedition". Our goal was "Ruine Neideck", an old castle ruin set picturesquely atop a hill...sort of the symbol of Franconian Switzerland. Don't tell them it was a hike. tells us:

The name „Neideck“ was first mentioned in 1219. It became the private property of King Konrad II of Schlüsselberg in 1312. After his death in 1347 the castle was in the possession of the bishops from 1348-1553. In 1553, after a voluntary handover of the castle, it was destroyed and
burnt down.

Here are some of the results of our photography.

Approaching the can see it on top of the hill in the center.

Which way???

Watch out for falling rocks!

Approaching the ruin from below.

View from the castle wall

Approaching the ruin...

I think this used to be one of those cross-shaped cut outs for them to shoot arrows through.

Fall leaves...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

20th Anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down

November 9, 2009 is the 20th Anniversay of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Wikipedia tells us: The Berlin Wall (German: Berliner Mauer) was a concrete barrier erected by the German Democratic Republic (GDR) (East Germany) that completely encircled the city of West Berlin, separating it from East Germany, including East Berlin. The Wall included guard towers placed along large concrete walls, which circumscribed a wide area (later known as the "death strip") that contained anti-vehicle trenches, "fakir beds" and other defenses.

There will be many activities and celebrations including U2 singing a free concert at the famous Brandenburg Gate. Ironically the concert organizers are building a wall 20ft high barrier around the free concert so only people who have (the free) tickets can see!

From our trip to Berlin in May 2008: In Berlin they mark where the wall was using bricks and metal markers that show where the wall used to be.

They have pieces of the wall on display in Potsdammer Platz.

The wall used to be in front of the Brandenburg Gate.

Near the Check Point Charlie museum is a replica of the Checkpoint. This is how you would get from the American/British/French sectors to the Russian Sector.

BonusHasselhoff: David Hasselhoff did not bring the Berlin wall down, but he was there to sing over the ruins.

Friday, November 6, 2009


I wasn't sure how much Halloween there would be in Germany. In the supermarket, they sold some pumpkins. There was a Halloween display with some decorations, but sort of in the back.
I asked on my "German Way" ex-pat mailing list what the chances of Trick-or-Treaters were and they said:
"Depends on how many kids you have in your neighbourhood and whether they know that you "do" Halloween. When my boys were in elementary school, a few kids, mostly Turkish and Russian, would come to our house trick or treating, but in the past few years we've had no one show up despite the jack o' lantern outside the door.
"As others have said, not very likely. Although Halloween is more common in Germany these days, trick-or-treating is not."
So we got some pumpkins (they have many varieties, see above) from our local OBI (think Home Depot German Style) and carved them so we could show we "do" Halloween. I bought a couple of bags of candy "just in case". They don't have giant bags of candy for sale like in the U.S., but we could find some "fun" size candy bars.
As soon as it was dark and I lit the pumpkins and put them outside we had our first trick or treaters! In Germany they don't say "Trick or Treat", they say "Süßes sonst gibt's Saures" , that is, Sweets or we give Sours. I even saw some little boys prompting other little boys to say "danke"!
After a bit I had to drop the little one to go trick or treating with her friends...she said they would go up to small apartment buildings and push all the intercom buttons and when someone answered they would go up and who ever opened the doors would give them candy. Not everyone was really doing trick or treating so they got this one older lady who was sorry that she didn't have anything for them, but you know how all old ladies are required to have a dish of hard candies? She gave them "schwarz krauter" flavored hard candies...that means Black Herb and tasted like menthol to me.
When I got back we quickly had given away the last of the candy, so I went on a candy run. There was not much left at the store! Of course when I got back we only had one more group of kids come to the door...but hey! leftover candy!
I had also tried to see if there were any other Halloween pumpkin picking or Haunted Houses. The only thing I could find was a haunted house as the real Castle Frankenstein but you needed tickets for that and it was sold out. We did end up going to the Theme Park "Europa Park" over fall break and they had Haunted Houses and themed rides, but that is for another post.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ireland, Day 4: Glendalough, Powerscourt, St. Stephen's Green

  • Day 1: Adventures with Ryanair
  • Day 2- Walking Tour of Dublin
  • Day 3 - Newgrange, Tara and River Dance

  • Day 4: Glendalough, Powerscourt, St. Stephen's Green

We continued on our bus day trip on this day. Glendalough, which means Glen of the Two Lakes, is one of the most important sites of monastic ruins in Ireland. St. Kevin built a retreat there in the 600's. For 500 years it was one of Irelands great ecclesiastical foundations and schools of learning. The establishment was attacked, burned and plundered by the Danes, who were based in the stronghold of Dublin, a shortish distance away, and making it an easy target..
Glendalough, despite extensive fire damage in 1163 A.D. prospered until the early 13th century. In 1163, Laurence O'Toole, Abbot of Glendalough, who later became Irelands first canonised saint, was appointed Archbishop of Dublin.
The arrival of the Normans in Ireland sealed the fate of Glendalough, as in 1214 the monastery was destroyed by the invaders and the Diocese of Glendalough was united with the Sea of Dublin. After that, Glendalough declined as a monastic establishment and gradually it became deserted.

Entering into the cemetery:

Next we walked around the two lakes.

The first lake...

The second lake.

After our hike out to the lakes, we were off to Powerscourt Gardens.

Powerscourt Garden is a 45 acre blend of formal gardens, sweeping terraces, statuary and ornamental lakes together with secret hollows, rambling walks, walled gardens and over 200 variations of trees and shrubs.

A view of the main estate building from the pond below:

The Italian Garden...

Close up of the lily-pads...

Entrance to the Japanese Gardens...
Pet Cemetery...

The Walled Garden...

Rose Garden...

Finally we drove back to Dublin and took a short walk in St. Stephen's Green.
St Stephen's green is a peaceful oasis in the heart of Dublin.Within the stone walls of this public park you will discover nine hectares of gardens/ponds/trees/lawns.