Saturday, August 29, 2009

Things we are SO excited about coming back to

1. MEXICAN food!! Real. Real, mexican food. Flavor. Spice. Heat.

2. coffee. GOOD coffee. central american coffee with complex flavors and aromas. watch out Surf City.

3. communicating comfortably. all the time.

4. church community. People who love God. My friends who encourage me to be more Christ-like.

5. a car. I can privately go anywhere I want, when I want. freedom. the American way.

6. One-stop shopping. Grocery shopping will no longer be an all day event.

7. more predictable weather patterns.

8. Space! Big, BIG American size bathrooms and personal area.

8. cheaper goods. Sort of. If the dollar keeps tanking against the euro, at least.

9. Ali's wedding in October! Congratulations Ali and Paul!! And of course all of our family and friends too. :)

10. coming back older, wiser and more experienced. no quoting me on that!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Things we will miss about Germany

1. the beer. it just isn't the same anywhere else.

2. the sauerkraut. it IS disgusting. anywhere but here.

3. public transport. clean, efficient, timely, really wish we had this option in the US.

4. proximity to the rest of Europe. Every amazing country within approximately a 1 hour flight: Spain, Italy, Greece, England, Belgium, etc. We were in the center.

5. shopping. never before have I had so many cute and/or beautiful options. Especially H&M. The Europeans know how to dress.

6. waste management system. this is where the European culture is far superior to ours. yes we are consumers. but as the country, the US could manage their garbage a WHOLE lot better. wish we were more environmental like the Germans. Granted, they have had to learn the hard way with restricted land and resources, a growing population and heavy human casualties in 2 world wars, but we should be learning from that! who's with me?!

7. Ok, I admit it. Some meat products that you cannot get anywhere else. Namely, Leberkaese and Weisswurst.

8. Just our lifestyle here. It will never be like this again. And can I admit to a bit of escapism? Just a tad.

9. The friends we've made here. At least now we have connections to come and stay at a later date. (Right? Danny? Ella? Charlene? Emily? Martin & Hannelore?)

10. a culture that doesn't seem as competitive and image conscious as ours. but I could be wrong.

11. our separate and individual comforters.

Monday, August 17, 2009

München Residenz

After living in Munich for a year, we finally made it to the palace that we pass by every day. It was the city residence of the Wittelsbach family, the ruling family in Bavaria. Apparently, they were always trying to keep up with the Hapsburgs (remember them from European history 101?) rulers of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, who were trying to keep up with the Bourbons of France. Needless to say, they all visited one another and copied each others decorating style. Which I guess we still sorta do today.

It had beautiful courtyards and rooms, and we very much enjoyed the private theater and royal treasury. Enjoy the pictures!

Little, tiny porcelain vases

Little, tiny paintings

Ok, are you bored of overly ornate décor and furnishings yet?

Here are some things we found interesting: The paintings in the great hall all have knife marks where they were cut out at the end of the second world war. When the Allies were about to overtake Munich, the Nazis went through and tried to "save" the paintings by cutting them out, rolling them up and taking them away. If you look carefully, you can still see the knife marks.

I want these.

His and Her crowns

How's this for a beer stein? Nice.

Merissa and I pretending to be beautiful princesses.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hiking in the Gorge

Nathan, Merissa and I went hiking yesterday near the charming town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. This is also the town where you can catch a tram up to the Zugspitze (the tallest point in Bavaria, and where we went earlier this year). Now that it's summer and rather hot outside, we decided to "hike" (I place that in quotations because what the Germans consider hiking is so much easier than what Californians do, it's more of a walk really), along the river and through the gorge.

It was so cool. The water was light mint green, freshly melted from the glaciers and ICE cold. The damp scent of rocks and water filled our noses as we tried to talk to one another over the deafening rush of water. We almost bumped into some people a few times because it was so very dark going through the rock, it actually felt a bit like the Boardwalk's cave train or some attraction at Disneyland.

We then ended the day by exploring the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Apparently the 1932 winter olympics were held here, just as the Nazi party was coming into power. And, on a side note, Munich is putting in it's bid for the 2018 Olympics. If they win, who wants to join us in a trip to Munich?

Wild Johannisbeeren? Or just poisonous? We didn't find out.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Little Things

Just some little things that I've been up to this week. I made bagels from scratch, something I never thought I could do. Thank you Ali McNabb for the recipe and encouragement!

And we ordered pizza for German! You actually go online here and order it, so it wasn't THAT difficult, but still scary. They have really weird toppings here (which Jessi Wegner, our northern German friend, says is not even German at all and that the Bavarians are the weird ones). They offer pizzas with things like eggplant, corn, eggs, pepperocinis, and the like. Very odd. We ended up getting two pizzas, one with salami, artichoke hearts and bell peppers and then one with mushrooms and basil. They were both relatively good and it was nice not having to go out or cook that night!

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Weekend with the Belgians

Our friends, Tom and Pascale came to visit this past weekend. We were able to give them a tiny sample of Germany, tourist style. We went to a Biergarten for dinner Friday night, Neuschwanstein on Saturday, Weisswurst for breakfast and the BMW museum on Sunday. Classic.

Odeonsplatz at dusk. Apparently, Tom's a good photographer.

At the Chinese Tower in the beer garden. That's a Schweinhax'n. A Pork Knuckle. Simply medieval.

Schneeballen (snowballs) that we bought at a pastry shop. They looked so much better than they tasted. We were all disappointed.

Weisswurst for breakfast. And yes, Weissbier in the morning. Traditional Bavarian breakfast!

At the BMW museum.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


So, we have finished our vacation in Italy. Actually quite a while ago. But I'm just getting to the blog now. So, in one massive entry (though I promise not to put all of our 663 pictures, just a small sampling), here is our Italian Vacation!

Overall, just a great trip: I turned 30, we saw the rugged beauty of the Cinque Terre, absorbed the old, the new and the touristy culture of Rome, survived the fighting spirit of Naples, tasted the most simplistic and delicious pizza in the world, gaped at the splendor of the Amalfi coast and found my heritage and "spiciness" (as Nathan calls it) in Sicily. Whew!

At this point, I'd like to acknowledge my wonderful husband. After 8 years of marriage, (with a challenging year abroad, yet including a fabulous vacation in Italy, so this is duly noted), I am more in love with him than ever. The last time we were in Europe together for an extended vacation where it was just us 24/7, we had our gigantic fight somewhere in the middle. Yes, middle of the vacation and almost middle of the European continent. I think we were in Interlaken, Switzerland. This time, however, it was like we were more one than ever before. Entertaining and lively when needed, and solitary silence when needed. Yet we were never really outside of each other's presence. I am loving that marriage can get better with time and age.

If you're interested in some of the stuff we did, here's a bit of a list of the highlights and things we did and saw.

Cinque Terre
charming b&b place run by the nicest couple, spent many nights eating and chatting in their private garden. One night, our host brought us homemade Limoncello made by his octogenarian mother.
Hiked all of trail no. 1 throughout the 5 cities.
Celebrated my birthday with a romantic dinner overlooking the water.

The garden

Doesn't it remind you of Big Sur?

The classic and overdone shot of Vernazza.

The homemade Limoncello.

explored the Vatican
saw the Colosseum, Forum, Pantheon and Roman baths
ate TONS of gelato daily, often twice daily. My favorite is a scoop of pistachio with a scoop of chocolate
hung out at the fountains and people, er, tourist watched
drank lots of espresso
A blurry picture of me quickly rubbing St. Peter's stub of a foot. It has basically rubbed off throughout the years.

Sistine Chapel

Nate at Trevi Fountain

Spa Day! The Roman baths. Good night it was hot that day! I longed for water in those ruins.

visited Pompeii which is just outside the city
visited the National Archeological Museum where most of the stuff from Pompeii ended up (including ancient porn. yes, porn. Don't worry, I didn't put up any pictures, those can be viewed upon request....I TOLD you we had a great time!)
ate THE BEST pizza in the world

An amazingly beautiful mosaic and it's detail (on right).

Positano, Amalfi and Ravello
went to the beach
went to the beach again and again

Villa Cimbrone in Ravello

We had a thunderstorm one night.


drove with the crazy Italians
explored the cities of Taormina and Enna
visited the best preserved ruins in the world in Agrigento
went to the beach again
ate deliciously rich cannoli and yummy arancini (it means little orange and is filled with rice, meat and cheese)

City on a Hill

And there was NO ONE there!

Mt. Enna in the background. One of the world's most active volcano. Can you see it smoking?

Ah. Viva Italia!