Friday, March 27, 2009

A Visit from Nichole and Michael

Nate's cousin, and our good friend, Nichole Whiteman visited us this past week. Her boyfriend Michael came along, in his first trip to Europe ever. They were here for the Starkbierfest, the festival of Strong Beer (this is what the people would drink during Lent, containing anywhere from 6-10% alcohol and considered "liquid bread" by the monks).

It was nice to have their company, we went to the Deutsche Museum (one of the biggest and oldest science and technology museums), explored the city of Munich and drank A LOT of beer. It was great. For a few days Nic and Mike also went to see Austria, staying in both Salzburg and Innsbruck; and getting in some good skiing too!

Michael was stoked about the non-existent open container laws.

Nichole's dramatic side makes an appearance.

At the Deutsche Museum. Mike pondering a turbine engine and Nichole ducking a bomb.

It's fun having guests. Next up......the parents! Here we go.......

Monday, March 16, 2009


The Rathaus (town hall)

Our beloved Jessi and Jonas.

The port city

We went to Hamburg this last weekend to visit our friend Jessica Wegner and her family. They are originally from Hamburg and have been trying to convince us that the north of Germany is WAY better than the south. Well, at least prove to us that all of Germany is not like Bavaria. And she is right!

Hamburg was a really cool city. It reminded me of San Francisco/Zurich with its weather, surrounding water and numerous bridges. Little fact: Hamburg actually has more bridges than Venice, Italy!

Why is my husband so dashingly handsome?

Jessi and her boyfriend Jonas played tour guides in their city taking us on a double-decker bus tour and translating the German narrative just for us. They are so sweet. We strolled along the waterfront wharf and had fish sandwiches for lunch (very typical port-city grub), walked through the underground (and underwater) tunnel that connects the two sides of the Elbe river and got to party one night in the famous Reeperbahn.

The Reeperbahn is an historic party area, (if that's possible...), where sailors would spend their hard earned wages on prostitutes and liquor. Hey, let the good times roll! And it's still a party hearty area today, although the sailors are no longer the only ones who come here to have a good time. All the youth in Hamburg can be found here on Friday and Saturday nights staying up until early the next day. One street in the Reeperbahn area is famous for its prostitution, as it is legal here in Germany. Jessi and Jonas were telling us that women, although they are technically "allowed" to go on this street, often do not because they get hassled by the prostitutes. Whether this is from shame, competitiveness or simple distraction, women are not welcomed on Herberstraße. However, if you are a man, the story is completely different. I'm sure you can imagine. Needless to say, we stayed away from that street, but still got some good pictures of sex ads.

We also enjoyed a wonderfully delicious meal at Jessi's parents home. Besides the yummy food and excellent company, was the fact that they live in a swanky apartment overlooking the Elbe river. It was breathtaking. I felt very sophisticated. But Jessi's parents seem to have that ability, to make you feel cooler than you are.

One night, we ordered pizza and ate our slices off WWII-era dishes. It was sorta creepy and cool at the same time, knowing that the plates we were using were made during the reign of the Third Reich. Also, when I was trying to take this picture, the camera wasn't focusing properly and the picture was not coming out at all. We all started joking that maybe you're not supposed to be able to take a picture of the swastika!! But then I figured out my camera's extreme focus mode and it turned out fine. Notice that it was made in Bavaria.

We then said our good-byes and headed home on Monday. Except Nate, he had already left via train on Sunday afternoon (someone's gotta work right?). So here is the last story of our travels this past weekend.

Merissa and I arrived at the Munich airport and bought an outer ring train ticket to get back into the heart of the city. Now, we already have tickets for rings 1-2, the airport is located in ring 13 and the outer ring ticket we bought for 9 euros only covers rings 5-16. I know, I know, this is getting complicated. Yes, welcome to Germany. Anyway, all you need to know is that we deliberately knew we were breaking a German law, but figured we could make it 2 rings without getting checked and save 50% of the normal cost. It really is ridiculous how expensive it is to get to and from the airport!

You know where this story is going right? Of course, (probably because she was with me, because this stuff never happens to my sister), somewhere in the 4th ring we get checked. They do not care if you don't speak German, there are signs in multiple languages saying you will have to pay a fine of 40 euro if you do not have the correct ticket, so what else can we do but say that we are getting off here in......uh......Johanneskirchen. (Where the hell are we?) So, Merissa and I employ our best acting skills and pretend that this is our stop, walk confidently toward the exit and let the train leave us behind.

Thankfully, the ticket guard, or whatever they're called, didn't follow us or give us a fine, they've been known to do that. So, here we are in Johanneskirchen, out in the middle of the Bavarian countryside waiting 20 minutes for the next train. After the scare wore off, all we could do was laugh uncontrollably. Lesson learned. NEVER break the German laws!

Portuguese Tapas. Nate's favorite: sardines.

St. Michael slaying a demon (at least that's what I think this is...)

Atop the tower in St. Michael's Church

The underground and underwater passage to the other side of the city.

Last, but not least, this is where we stopped for coffee one day. It's a chain. We explained what Balzac sounds like to native English ears. We all had a good laugh.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What a Mess

Those of you that have known me long enough (or perhaps even new friends), understand that "graceful" is not an adjective used to describe me. I'm very clumsy and in addition to breaking a few plates and glasses here, I have also broken a glass lampshade in our bedroom. I have close calls daily where something slips out of my fingers and onto the floor. Usually I'm lucky and nothing gets broken or ruined. The story below is the exception. (Sarah, Forrest and Nate correct me if I jumble the details).

On the Myatt-Paul's last night, we went to the Augustiner Kellar bier hall. To get there, we take a tram which runs in the middle of the road on cables. We had just finished at the Kellar and began to head home. We were walking to the tram stop and then suddenly heard the tram quickly approaching. If we didn't run we'd miss it! So we all broke into a jog, even Sarah with Luke in the stroller. We jogged along the street until all the cars had gone past so we could cross. Forrest, being ahead of everyone, crossed first, then Nate, Sarah and finally me). I must've caught up with Sarah or passed her (she did have the stoller after all) because the next thing I knew, my feet were stumbling. I tried to re-balance myself, but to no avail, I came crashing down in the middle of the road, landeding hard on my hands and knees with my purse somewhere to my left. Mind you, the tram was ahead of us, and we were still trying to make it. Thankfully, we did.

But when I got in the tram we surveyed my damage. I had muddied up my jeans, torn through one knee and was bleeding. My white mittens were a green black from the wet ground. We could not stop laughing. Apparently, since it was dark, I had forgotten about the little curb that separates the cars from the trams and it took me down hard! Thankfully, Sarah, being behind me, saw me fall and avoided the obstacle. So, although I'm a klutz, I'd like to think I saved Sarah and the baby. Some of you may be thinking "Well, Shera, don't run after drinking! That's what happens." And this is the saddest part. I was the ONLY one not to have an alcoholic drink that night. But I wish I could blame it on intoxication.

We got home, I cleaned myself up and Sarah, channeling Martha Stewart-like abilities, sewed my ripped jeans. Thank you SO much Sarah! Anyways, now I have scrapes and bruises all over my legs (those bruises from sledding last weekend are still there) and I probably have the world's least sexiest legs right now. I look like a victim of domestic violence. Good thing it's still winter because I'm a mess.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Visit from the Myatt-Pauls

The last few days we enjoyed the company of our good friends Sarah, her husband Forrest and their 11 month old son Luke.

We had fun playing tour guides in our cold/wet/snowy city. Although I kept apologizing for the dreadful weather, Sarah and Forrest (coming from Houston) welcomed the cold and relief from humidity. Others of you who plan to visit may not have such a rosy outlook (mom and dad, I'm looking in your direction). Basically we just explored the city center, shopped for authentic Birkenstocks for Sarah, and ate A LOT of traditional Bavarian foods.

Baby Luke is a great little traveler too. He only seemed to become upset when we stopped moving and there were no longer new things for him to view! Such a cutie. And his little smile and belly laugh will melt your heart. Sarah and Forrest, thank you so much for your visit! We miss you already and (at the time of writing) you haven't even caught your plane yet!

PS - Ha ha. We did NOT give Luke beer. He's just at that age where he reaches for and grabs anything. What did he happen to grab at the Hofbräuhaus? The boys' liters of beer. Too funny of a picture to pass up.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Just love these Teas!

The one on the left says: "Little Sin".

"Sweet Devil"

Sorry, I couldn't resist. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Happy Birthday Nathan!

Today is Nate's 32nd birthday. We celebrated by sleeping in and then having huevos rancheros for breakfast, a true treat in central Europe. I even made him guacamole. It kicked ass. It was another sunny day (warm even! It was 52F!!! All I wore was jeans and a sweater! This is a VERY big deal), so we took a walk in the sunshine and had tea and pie. All the York boys seem to like pie better than cake for their birthdays. What is WRONG with them?? Anyway, Nate enjoyed his berry pie and a fun, yet relaxing weekend.