Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Was ist das? (What is that?)

My little one told me this is quite the popular fruit in the cafeteria at school...

What the heck is it? I thought it looked like a tomatillo. So we bought them to try.
We looked it up and tomatillo is in the physalis family...this is most likely known as a "Cape Gooseberry". It is pleasantly tart.

Monday, March 30, 2009

How to go Grocery Shopping in Germany in 25 Easy Steps

  1. Gather up all of your bottles that need to be returned. Yes, they still do that!
  2. Make sure you have a 1-Euro coin with you.
  3. Make sure you have your shopping bags with you. You are tired of paying for plastic grocery bags.
  4. Go to the supermarket.
  5. Put your bottles in the automatic bottle returner machine.
  6. Gather any bottles that the machine rejects. Put them back in the car.
  7. Take your 1-Euro coin to get a shopping cart. The carts are connected together and you put in a 1-Euro to free a cart.
  8. Take your bottle return receipt into the store with you.
  9. Go shopping.
  10. Marvel at why half of the "American Section" is Mexican food...but they don't have re-fried beans.
  11. Go to check out.
  12. Hopefully you have cash or your "EC" debit card with you.
  13. Watch the checkout person scan your items at record speed. You have to bag yourself.
  14. Feel proud if you can almost bag as fast as the checkout person.
  15. Ignore stares as you bag the few last items and get your money out.
  16. Put your food in the trunk of your car.
  17. Smack your head when you realize you forgot to turn in your bottle return receipt.
  18. Return your cart to the cart shack and get your Euro back.
  19. Put your Euro in a special place in your purse so you don't spend it.
  20. Stop by the recycling center to get rid of the wine bottle that the bottle return machine rejected.
  21. Look back and forth between the green bottle bin and the brown bottle bin when you realize you have a yellow bottle.
  22. Decide it's a green bottle and who cares because no one's watching.
  23. Go home.
  24. Unpack your groceries.
  25. Try to figure out how to fit the frozen items in the little tiny freezer.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Erlanger Frühling (Erlanger Spring)

“Erlanger Frühling” is a spring town festival which takes place in Erlangen for the last twelve years. More than 10.000 visitors come to this event every year. Along the main streets (Nürnberger Straße and Hauptstraße ) and the two squares (Hugenottenplatz and Schloß/Marktplatz) there will be all kinds of attractions as well as a big variety of food and drinks. At the Bohlenplatz you can find an interesting flea market. All shops in the centre will be open too. Come and see all the newest fashion trends and enjoy the atmosphere!
When: Sunday, March 22nd, between 1pm and 6pm.

The above was what the Newsletter from our Relocation People said. Sounded like a nice festival...however it turns out that the main draw is that all the shops in the shopping areas and the Arcaden (our local mall) were open! Normally shops are closed on Sunday, so this was a big deal. It was like Christmas shopping crowds in March in the Arcaden. There were also booths along Nürnberger Straße (a semi-pedestrian only street with many shops). Despite the rain, many people were out and about.

We stopped for some Kuchen (cake) at a booth which you notice they served on real plates. You could get paper plates if you wanted too.

One of the department stores had a horse-drawn wagon...my kids are too big for that! :-(

Adorable horses!

When we walked back, we decided to not walk in the crowds and went over a block where we found the Schlossgarten (Castle Garden). The croci are out!

The first French Huguenot refugees arrived in Erlangen in 1686. Christian Ernst, Margrave of Brandenburg-Bayreuth, built a "new town" (Neustadt) for them. This fountain depicts Christian Ernst at the top and his good deeds "flowing" down to the Huguenots on the bottom of the

This is the Orangerie, built in 1705 for the over-wintering of tropical plants.
After that we went to the Arcaden for Eis (ice cream) as I was the only smart person who wanted warm coffee and cake on a cold day. The crowds were unbelievable!

Friday, March 27, 2009

I swore this was Vegetable Oil when I bought it

It is the color of vegetable oil...
In the bottle shape I come to expect...
It seems to be used for salads...

I wondered why the viscosity was so low...
I won't mention how many times I used it when cooking up some chicken...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

As you walk in the house

Someone asked what does it look like in our house as you walk in the front door?

If you look to the right:

On the right is an extra bedroom/office. It is empty at the moment, awaiting furniture.
On the left is the downstairs bathroom.
If you look to the left:
The bathroom is on the right, and the stairs to the basement and 2nd floor (known as the 1st floor here in Europe) are on the left. If you go down the hall to the left you can also access the kitchen or the stairs that lead upstairs.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I guess it is a slow times for German Car Dealers too....

The hubby leased a Audi A6. They said at the dealership that you can get it delivered from the factory for €300-400 or a salesdude would pick you up and take you to the factory in Ingolstadt for free. Hubby chose the free option.

At the Audi Factory:

"Visit the Customer Center of Audi Forum Ingolstadt and Welcome to the heart of Audi! The Customer Center of Audi Forum Ingolstadt lies at the vibrant epicenter of Audi. This is where you will take delivery of your new Audi! It is a direct expression of our philosophy and an effective medium for communicating the fascination of the Audi world. The Customer Center, “Audi museum mobile”, the “Market and Customer” building and the expansive Piazza, with their open design and transparent architecture, lend a unique flair. Before our customers take delivery of their new Audi at the Customer Center of Audi Forum Ingolstadt, we welcome our customers to take a 120 minute guided tour of our factory and visit our world famous historical museum. This is when our customers will experience a vivid insight into Audi’s philosophy, views and heritage. Thereafter, our customers will have a professional “walk around” of their new Audi and will learn how to operate their new vehicle and get a complete understanding of all features and benefits included with this incredible automobile. A fascinating experience to add to the excitement of your new car."

But we guess the salesmen were not too busy at the dealer because they decided to get the hubby customized plates.
ER= Erlangen (this is standard, your city is the first 1-3 characters)
then His initials
then His birth year

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Nürnberg (Nuremberg)

On Saturday the girls and I went into Nürnberg (the hubby was working). Nürnberg is about 22 km (13.6 miles) away from us and has a population of about 500,000 people.

"Nuremberg (Nürnberg), Bavaria’s second-largest city, is a vibrant place where the nightlife is intense and the beer is as dark as coffee. The city is one of Bavaria’s biggest draws and is alive with visitors during summer and the spectacular Christmas market.
For centuries Nuremberg was the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire and the preferred residence of German kings, who kept their crown jewels here. Rich and stuffed with comely architecture, it was also a magnet for famous artists like Albrecht Dürer, a native son.

Nuremberg shines throughout Germany like a sun among the moon and stars, ’ gushed Martin Luther. In the 19th century the city was at the heart of the industrial revolution in Germany.

Nazis saw in Nuremberg a perfect stage for their activities. It was here that the fanatical party rallies were held, the boycott of Jewish businesses began and the infamous Nuremberg Laws outlawing Jewish citizenship were enacted. On 2 January 1945, Allied bombers reduced the city to rubble and 6000 people were killed.

After WWII the city was chosen as the site of the War Crimes Tribunal, now known as the Nuremberg Trials. Later, the painstaking reconstruction – using the original stone – of almost all the city’s main buildings, including the castle and old churches in the Altstadt, have returned the city to some of its former glory."

We drove to Nuremberg and did a walking tour of the city. We started out at the Handwerkerhof (Craftsman Court).

A miniature medieval city in the typical artisan Franconian half-timbered style, old Nuremberg guilds show their skills: you can see the Lebküchnern (Gingerbread Maker), the Töpferin (Pottery Maker) , the Zinngießer (Pewter Maker), Glasschleifer (Glass Blower), Ledermacherin (leather maker) , the Goldschmied (goldsmith) or a Puppenmacherin (Puppet-maker) at work.

This is the Glass-blower's shop.

In the window:

As we walk up the Konigstrasse on a gorgeous March afternoon:

After that was the St-Lorenz-Kirche (St. Lawrence Church)which was built between the 13th and 15th Centuries.

We continued along Königstrasse to the Museum Bridge.

If you look close up, it says:

"Gaststätte heilig geist spital wein stuben"
which according to Babelfish means:
"Restaurant holy spirit hospital wine rooms"
Anyway, continuing on we saw "Rub a dub dub, a skeleton, a dog and naked people in a tub"
Next we arrive at the Hauptmarkt (Central Market). At Christmas time they have a Christkindlmarkt but today it is a farmer's market.

With many flowers and fruits and whatnot....

You can see the Schonner Bronnen (Beautiful Fountain) in the background of the picture above.

Here is a close up:

Closeup of a church in the Hauptmarkt:

I wanted to take the girls to a museum, but they are not real keen on that idea...so I took them to the Spielzueg Museum (Toy Museum). I figured that would get the least resistance. There I found out if you buy a ticket to one of the museums, you get free entry to many of the others. However, our parking "meter" was running out so we just did this museum. My favorite was the miniature kitchens they had.
"Nuremberg has always been a toy city of world renown, its tradition stretching from the "Dockenmacher" (doll makers) of mediaeval times to outstanding tin figure manufacturers and numerous tin toy producers in the industrial age, up to the International Toy Fair, the world's most important trade fair of its kind. Nuremberg Toy Museum in the very heart of the Old Town is part of this rich cultural heritage. Its comprehensive and exceptionally high quality collection spans the time from antiquity to the present day, with a strong focus on the past two centuries. Since opening in 1971, the museum, which is based on the collection of Lydia and Paul Bayer, has attracted more than four million visitors from all over the world.
The four floors behind the Renaissance façade of a Nuremberg town residence encompass the entire variety of historic toys. Wooden toys await visitors on the ground floor. On the first floor, dolls and exquisite dolls' houses allow a glimpse of life in centuries past. The world's most comprehensive collection of E. P. Lehmann toys tells the fascinating history of this famous German family company. A "Tin World" is presented on the second floor. Vehicles, toy train sets and steam engines are testimony to the exceptional role played by Nuremberg toy producers in the field of technical toys.
Recent toy history may be found on the top floor, in an attractively designed new exhibition space. Exhibits go from the makeshift toys of the immediate post-war years to the high-tech toys of today: Barbie, Lego and Playmobil, as well as Schuco cars (displayed in a fifties exhibition stand), train sets, fantasy figures and computer games on CD-ROM."
We liked the Retro Robots and bought this reproduction:

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Zigaretten (Cigarettes) Machine

One thing I noticed right away when we were looking for houses in neighborhoods is that they had Cigarette machines every couple of blocks throughout the neighborhood.
I guess if you can't wait or all the stores are closed on Sunday's, you are in luck. And for the kids, there is bubblegum machines too!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Küche (Kitchen)

As I mentioned before, normally European houses/apartments come empty...as in no kitchen appliances/counters/cabinets/closets/light-fixtures. As our house was being completely renovated, the landlord gave us the option of having her install a kitchen, but then us paying a higher monthly rent instead.

On the right is the cooktop...this has an induction cook top which seems to heat up quickly and is a snap to clean. It requires pots made of ferrous (iron) material...I just test it by seeing if a magnet sticks to the pot.

We have alot of cabinet space...but the refrigerator is small! Can you spot it?

Until the chairs that go with the kitchen table arrive, we have some how ended up with orange chairs! They give a little color to the room. We are lucky to have an eat-in kitchen.
This is the only table surface in the house so this is also where my computer is set up.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Haus (House)

Our house is a Doppelhaushälfte which is really just a Duplex. The landlord lady lives in the other half next door.
As you can see there is almost no front yard to speak of but there is a back yard. When they renovated the house, they did not finish the outside work as it was winter. We are still waiting for a driveway, backyard, patio and balcony.
You can see our wooden "walkway" that we use to get to the front door (which is on the side of the house.)

Most of the houses on our street are duplexes as well.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Only in Germany

This is the car we are renting for me....it is automatic as I do not (yet) know how to drive a stick shift.

But only in Germany would they have to point out that the top speed of the vehicle is 210km/h = 130mph. You really are allowed to go very fast on parts of the Autobahn (highway)!

First Solo Trip to the Supermarket

It was time for me to venture out on my own and make my first solo trip to the supermarket! We had gone to some larger ones over the weekend, but I thought I would try our local (much closer) but smaller supermarket. One of these days I will remember to take my own shopping bags as you have to pay for them in Germany if you don't bring them.
The girls are sticking with Peanut butter sandwiches on "American Style" whitey-white bread.

However, I have started to enjoy the hearty German bread...

But found it even better with Nutella!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Painting of Rooms

The older one wanted her room painted, so I said if she wants to do a lot of the work, I would help. She chose BRIGHT colors!



Saturday, March 14, 2009

Re: Packing and Moving

We only planned to take part of our household stuff to Germany and leave the rest in long-term storage. The Mover people said to separate all our stuff into "Germany" stuff and "Storage" stuff... I decided it would be too difficult to move stuff all around the house so we just labeled our items.

Then the movers came and with tremendous speed and efficiency they packed up all the Germany stuff first.

For all the Germany items, they loaded it into a shipping container. It ended up only being 3/4 full...important because we only get one shipping container to get all our stuff back to the U.S. too....evidently we can do a little shopping!

By Tuesday all the Germany stuff was on its way, and then they started on all the items that are to go into storage. They finished that by Wednesday night, and the house was cleaned out!

We sold our minivan to CarCash for a pittance, but they would buy it on the spot, so what do you do. On Thursday we finished cleaning out the house...donating food to the food bank at church and finalizing details. Our friend Kathy took us to the Airport and we were off!

Friday, March 13, 2009

We've Arrived!

We arrived in Munich this morning at about 10:00am local time. We rented the biggest car (suv) they had to fit all our luggage -- 8 checked pieces plus carry ons!
Now we are unpacking...where does it all go?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Packin' and Movin'

The Germany Shipment is off !
So far they have used 2 boxes of packing tape = 55yds/roll * 36 rolls/box= 2.25 miles of tape!
Now they are packing the stuff to be stored...