This aint Trip Advisor

Okay, so here is the thing.

I watch a few expatty/ aupair now living the German life/ funny girl making life laugh/ home decor genius / nice bloggy friend/ girl making her way the same way as me .. bla bla bla.. You get the hint, BLOGS, I frequently try to keep up with a few. Pretty much all of these blogs have some sort of “disclaimer” stating that they are, in fact, their own opinions and views how they see life day to day, and are not meant to be taken with any kind of serious thought or offense. (Who would have thought?) Now, the time has come where I am going to post that same little disclaimer. With that being said, I am sure this post will make a blogger or two giggle, because I am sure they have had the same thing happen a time or two. Or maybe it’ll make a few mad. But frankly I don’t care, because this is my blog and my opinion. ha!

So, here is the thing. When I tell you that Germans drive like idiots, it is because I think so. And when I told you that Bretzen is disgusting, it was also because I didn’t like it. When I say you can’t find chocolate covered pretzels in Germany, it’s because I asked three local, born and raised German families that had absolutely no clue what they were, and I have yet to find them, THUS I took the idea that they are not an everyday treat to the German culture. When I say the skies are grey but the winter isn’t that cold, it’s because to me.. it isn’t. (It’s rather freaking mild, to be honest ya sissies) See what I did there?

This ain’t Trip Advisor. I’m not here to tell you the ins and outs of German culture, people, weather, food, accommodations or the best way to make the jump across the big ol’ pond. I’m only here to tell you a thing or two about the things that I do, from day to day and life as I see it. I am from Chicago.. my view of a cold winter is going to be different than a person from Arizona. I’m not a bread fan.. my view of what “good” bread should taste like is different than a person that is obsessed with the carb overload. Here in Germany, I live in an itty bitty town just north of Munich. I live in Bavaria. My views of German culture are going to be SO much different than someone staying in Berlin, or even in downtown Munich. I learn Bayerisch, not just Deutsch/ German. I say words with a Chicago accent and I think that, (GASP!) the Germans drive like maniacs. Do they drive like maniacs in Berlin or in the alps? I don’t know. I don’t live there. I don’t see it.

(Deep breath.) SO, basically, what I’m ranting and raving about it, don’t take this blog to seriously. If I say I am living without a favorite snack from home and it can in fact be found at a store here in Germany, that’s great. But from my point of view and the stores I shop at, it can’t. From my point of view this winter is nothing. And from my point of view the drivers are crazy. If you want real, true to the bone info on this place go here. They’re experts on where you can find chocolate covered pretzels.

Don’t take this, life, or anything for that matter too seriously.

Image

Smillllleeeeee.

Advertisements

Salzburg, Austria

I think the first weekend I spent not doing a damn thing is when I realized I actually live in Europe and I am not on some kind of extended vacation that will come to an abrupt end in the very near future. The kind of weekend that you stay in the same pajamas the entire time, only changing to shower and moving for the occasional meal. Or watching an entire season of a show back home (1.completely illegally because Germany has these stupid laws on entertainment and 2. I haven’t done the whole VPN thing yet and didn’t feel like taking the time out of my lax weekend to figure it out.) Thus, I live here… and guess what?

I have only had ONE of these weekends. I’m really bad about coming to terms with the fact that since I LIVE here, I really don’t have to go all crazy travel freak all the time and because of this: 1. I am constantly going and 2. I was dying to cross the country border because lets be honest, it just got a little boring with Germany, Germany, Germany. And crossing the border is exactly what I did.

Welcome to Salzburg, Austria.

Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg, Austria

Although only a few hours train ride away, and visible from the highest tower in Munich across the Alps, Austria is the small little country situated in the mountains just east of Germany. Mozart’s birthplace and the filming of the Sound of Music, Salzburg is nestled in the beginning of the Alps directly on the border of Germany and Austria.

We started our trip to Austria a little late (because, well… Munich’s nightlife got the best of our group the night before, and we weren’t out of our suite until 1pm, er 13:00. Since I LIVE here, this is acceptable. I don’t have too much of a time schedule.. ha!) Anyways, after a three hour train ride from Munich and a quick taxi ride to our hotel for the night, we said Hello to Austria. Unfortunately, it was already dark. However, darkness is for sissies and we went to discover anyways. Continue reading

Locals!

As soon as Taylor arrived, we were set on finding more friends. Set on making this town feel a bit like home for the next year and after a little homework, we now have friends within walking distance. German friends, Russian friends, Macedonian friends. That’s the cool thing about Europe. The people you meet are from all over this world we live in. And this post marks the beginning of a week’s worth of back posts from Taylor and I getting to know these people we now call our friends, I will try to keep everything in order!

While abroad, it’s not quite as easy to walk into a bar and meet new people. By all means, that is possible.. but not knowing much German in a German-speaking country can put a little damper in those plans. (Even if most of them DO know English..)

The last month I have been in German ideally alone. I had a few friends in Regensburg, which was about two hours away and other friends strung throughout Europe. But I had no one in town. There was no one to meet up with at the drop of a hat. Because making a plan for absolutely everything just takes half the fun out, right? I’m a ‘wing it’ type of chick. Apparently, so is Taylor, so we have a lot of fun being lost.

The internet is a beautiful thing. I have spent the last 30 days or so frantically trying to network with other people and expats in the area because having friends just makes everything better, and that it did. I used couchsurf to find locals in my town, my blog to find other aupairs, email when those lovely ladies contacted me and good ol’ facebook for its groups and have been completely successful and making friends.

On Friday, Taylor and I headed out to a local bar to meet Helena, Verona and Simon. Let me just start off by saying it was SUCH a great idea! Verona and Simon are the worlds cutest couple that live here in Dorfen, and Helena is an aupair from Macedonia. We started out a Johanas Cafe and ended at the E3. Verona and Simon told us all about Germany and themselves, jobs and lives while we listened intently like a couple of little kids, sponges to everything new in this culture. After they headed to party in Munich.. Taylor, Helena and I continued on to the E3 where we talked aupair life and then our real life, home, society and boys (of course!) for another three hours. At about 2 am, we all headed home and called ourselves friends.

How cute. (I still can’t stop saying that…)

Image

Helena, Taylor, Myself, Verona and Simon

I get by with a little help from my friends..

After waiting an entire month, Taylor is here! This post is a little late, because Taylor has been here for over a week, but we have had so much fun this last week that I have totally neglected my blog (once again..).  Taylor is also an American aupair living in the same little town as myself for the next year. We are the same age and we laugh at the same jokes. We relate to the same “what the heck?” moments, and the same questions as to why the Germans do some of the things they do. Only difference? She’s from the desert. Arizona, to be exact. Keep in mind its COLD in Germany, and we have been bundled everyday. Don’t worry, Taylor didn’t freeze to death is still currently living (in a scarf, gloves, and thick coat at all times, but she’s good.)

Why am I introducing Taylor on my blog? Because your going to hear a lot about her and given that she is in the same boat as me for the next 330 days, we spend a lot of time together. A lot as in almost everyday. Hey, the title of this post really does have a reason.

We have matured from our host mom’s planning our first get together over coffee to taking nine trains together in two days, thus seeing more tourist attractions in one weekend than most see in an entire vacation. (coming soon…)

Our inside jokes with friends and family back home (REEE!) have been shared and we are able tell stories and actually know who ‘Mareissa’ and ‘Lindsey’ are. We talk about boys… a lot. We started our immersion Dutsch Course this Monday (where not a single word of English is spoken) and we laugh at all the crazy mistakes at a cafe in town around 9pm. We also, have four local friends. (HELLO weekends…)  Like I said, this week was bunches of fun.

Image

Taylor and I on Day 3 of our nonstop weekend @ Neuschweinstein Castle.
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” ― C.S. Lewis

“CHECK!”

Shut up & Drive

“zero to sixty in 3.5, baby you got the keys, shut up & drive.”

For the last month (yes, I said that.. I have officially lived here a month!), I have been dreading the whole driving thing. Why?

1. It’s a diesel and that is just unheard of in a car

2. It’s a stick shift

3. As much as I love my Indianapolis 500, I have had 1 too many heart attacks while being the passenger in this race they call life, er.. driving in Germany and…

4. where the heck are the street lights?!!

I have officially been here 31 days. I have been living, breathing and taking in Germany for 31 days and I still freak out over the driving. THIS is where all those commercials are where they are doing 100 around a mountain stream from. It has to be.

Eva and I decided this week that I would get my driving lesson today, while we were childless because things are going to get hectic around here real soon. Eva has had contractions all week, although she isn’t near labor and the baby is doing fine, we are expecting her little arrival early. We have seven weeks left until baby Antonia’s due date, so we are attempting to get this house in order in the mean time. (HA!)

Sophia at school, Emilia in Kindergarten, Eva 8 months pregnant, Alex rushing around in Munich and me in the drivers seat on about 3 hours of sleep. Let that sink in for a second.

As we set off out of the drive way, I managed to swipe three cars on the way out. Just like that. They park way too close together and I’m not used to this. I’m kidding. I didn’t hit anything and everyone survived. Eva didn’t go into stress induced preterm labor and my heart is back to beating at a normal pace. It only took about an hours time and some Luke Brian.

We did good. Learning to drive a diesel stick shift isn’t exactly what I would call amusing.. or fun or even slightly enjoyable, but I managed it. WE managed it. We both also admitted whole heartedly that we will never be able to go into the driving field. Eva kept telling me to go faster, I kept shaking. Is it really necessary to do 100 km on a dark road, on a steep hill that ends in a curve? Germany thinks so.  (And you guys all thought I drove like a maniac before!) And, while I am at it. They must be noctural, because where are the street lights?!

Anyways, after an hour of practice, tons of laughing, 10 motor kills, two times of Eva having to get in the drivers seat to figure out what I was doing wrong, we managed and we made it back home. We also saw some killer views, but unfortunately, I was driving and couldn’t get any pictures. Public transportation was made for a reason, right?

Good news of the day, I found out I can see the alps from about ten minutes away. I am so there when the skies clear up. (say.. in May if we’re lucky??)

Speaking of the Alps.. that is exactly where you can find me this weekend. Taylor is finally here (THANK GOD) and we are off to Munich on Saturday and Neuschwanstein Castle on Sunday with a group of friends. Did you hear that?! I’ve been here a month and I finally have friends! Next weekend, I officially start border hopping to Salzburg, Austria for two days with another friend. Then, in three weeks, I’ll be in Italy with another friend. Everything is better when your not alone!

Europe is freakin’ awesome.

Image

Girl on fire

I let you all in on a little secret about how awesome New Years was in Germany here. I wasn’t kidding. I was holding back tears and my cheeks were hurting from smiling so hard the entire night.

If there is one thing that Germany has got a grip on, it’s celebrating New Years. That, or just celebrating anything. Or just drinking in general (reclosable beer bottles, seriously?!) , but we will stick with the New Years and celebration assumption for morality purposes.

Up until the night before, I had planned on staying home with my host family and attending their annual New Years eve celebration complete with raqlet, fondue and the fireworks. “If this is my only New Years here, do I want to spend it home?” Absolutely not. So, the night before I was on a mission to make a plan. In another country. Through websites in a German language.  It was a tough call between celebrating in Regensburg and going to Tollwood Winter Festival, but with a little help from almost a local, we managed to figure out where and when we would celebrate. Tollwood Winter Festival made its way onto our agenda. Tickets were almost sold out, but we managed to snag a pair and I am so glad that we did.

A pair. We managed a pair of tickets. Ester had to beg and plead at the door for about twenty minutes before some god blessed soul sold her an extra ticket and we were in. Think Lollapolooza, put it under brightly colored tents, double the strength of the alcohol, put it in the middle of winter, add a German accent and language barrier and call it New Years at Tollwood. (Right away, sorry for crappy quality pictures, I was sick of pulling my camera out after the first. So everything is off my cell phone.)

newsss

After burning our mouths off  finishing our Pad Tai and Weissbier we headed to the music tents to enjoy a night of dancing and rocking out to various types of music. Including American! YAY. Jamaram was awesome and played both German and American music. However the fun hadn’t begun until we made our way over to Rockomotion. Rockomotion played all American covers, and it was so. much. fun. I even, ironically, met a German girl who was an au pair in Chicago. What are the odds?! This world is such a cool place.

IMG_0697

Complete with old couple dancing the night away.

IMG_0708

IMG_0693

hansssss

Three minutes to midnight and we headed outside to see the fireworks. They were nonstop and as far as you could see. And I thought the 4th of July was intense!

Please excuse the voice. I was holding back tears and smiling so hard it hurt. Forgive me.

And this was almost twenty minutes later. Germany still going strong.

Girl on fire. Those are the only words that I can currently muster up to explain my feelings at 12:00 midnight New Years Eve. I was so overcome with the sounds, sights and feelings that at the exact strike of the year 2013, it finally hit me that I now live in Germany. I’m not here on vacation and I don’t have a return date. I literally live in Germany. And I couldn’t be happier. I cried tears of joy. (see below) I cried at fireworks, what is happening to me?!

tears

I hope you all enjoyed New Years as much as I did.

One for the record books, that’s for sure.

Almost makes me want to plan for 2014 ;)

Eva’s Carrot Cake

This afternoon Eva (or rather baby in the making #3) demanded that we make carrot cake for absolutely no reason. And let me tell you this was, by far, the best carrot cake I have ever tasted.

Granted, it wasn’t coated in dreamy creme cheese icing and covered in nuts, BUT this cake was so good it didn’t need an inch thick of delicious fat covering it. We simply paired it with fresh whipped cream and it complimented the cake perfectly.

This was so good, I decided to convert this for everyone back at home as well. (this took me an hour to do and confirm, so you really should go make this everyone back in small town USA)

Image

So, for everyone here in Europe:

Eva’s Karottenkuchen

3 Eggs
200 mL Oil
230 g brown sugar
185 g flour (whole wheat)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
2 tsp cinnamon
90 g walnuts/pecans (we used walnuts)
250 g grated fresh carrots

Beat eggs, oil and brown sugar until smooth.
In separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
Beat into egg mixture. Fold in carrots and walnuts.
Put baking paper in the bottom of a spring form pan, put mixture into pan.
Bake at 180 degrees C for 20 minutes and 150 for the remaining 25.
Let cool and top with sprinkled powered sugar.

Fresh cream:
Open a container of fresh cream and beat it. That’s it.
Don’t beat it to much, or it’ll turn to butter!

Eat cake with cream on the side and indulge in heaven.

Image

And, for everyone back at home using cups and not all these crazy mL and g.. here it is for you.

Eva’s Carrot Cake

3 eggs
3/4 cup of oil, plus a little splash
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 1/3 c flour (whole wheat is what we used)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2/3 c walnuts/pecans (we used walnuts)
1 3/4 cups grated fresh carrots

Beat eggs, oil and brown sugar until smooth.
In seperate bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
Beat into egg mixture. Fold in carrots and walnuts.
Put baking paper (wax paper) in the bottom of a springform pan, put mixture into pan.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes and 300 degrees F for the remaining 25.

Fresh cream:
Open a container of fresh cream and beat it. That’s it!
Don’t beat it to much, or it’ll turn to butter!

Eat cake with cream on the side and indulge in heaven. You’re welcome US of A!

Trausnitz Castle

Let me just start off by telling  you this place was absolutely gorgeous and I will be going back very soon. Trausnitz castle was filled with history, rich in culture and a must see for those anywhere near the Munich area. Let the photo overload begin…IMG_0615

Located in Landshut, Germany and built in the year 1204, Trausnitz castle overlooks the city of Landshut from above. Trausnitz is one of many mideval castles in Bavaria built by Duke Ludwig I.

Eva and Alex planned this day trip because I was feeling rather home sick on Christmas and needed to see more of this beautiful country. Prior to our visit, I Googled Trausnitz castle and could not come up with much excitement. It looked like another old palace, but it sure was not an Ashford castle that I was used to seeing the last time I visited Europe. Lesson of the day, never trust Google images.

Although hard to capture in photos because of its location, Trausnitz was filled with all kinds of excitement and I highly recommend taking the nature trail up to the entrance. If you park at the top of the hill, it’s a winding walk through the woods that eventually leads to a little brick door titled Burg. That’s it, one word; six inches tall embedded in a 12 foot wall of bricks.

oldcastle_original

Through this door, you start to see remains of protection walls and shoots, huge castle doors and the medieval designs of the Duke. Ah, another decaying castle. Until you turn the corner….trausnitz087

Welcome to Trausnitz. Entering through the main gates, we were greeted by a bright yellow courtyard and the flag of Bavaria. It was trying to rain all day, but the sun popped out just long enough for some fantastic pictures of the palace.

IMG_0616065IMG_0605

collageeee_original

In 1961 a massive fire ruined most of the interior of the castle so most of the authentic wall art inside was destroyed. The tour was strictly no cameras allowed so I wasn’t able to get many quality photos on our tour. The castle was used as a residence until the 17th century, a prison for noble prisoners in the 18th century and a hospital in the 19th century. Now that’s history.

124

Frohe Weihnachten!

Where I live, that means Merry Christmas! And Merry is has been.

Germany has treated me so well my first two weeks. I have seen so much, tasted so much, learned so much and just experienced this astonishing culture in such magnificent ways, that I haven’t caught any of you up on anything, I’m sorry.  I sure say that a lot, but I’m still living through my own eyes more than through the eyes of my camera, you understand, right?

565054_10151319992582158_54311493_n

581529_10151319994762158_1110152158_n

If Germany has taught me two things so far it’s this:

1. The stereotype that Germans are bitter is a bunch of crap. 

3. Everything is different. Nothing is the same.

I mean, a few things are the same. People are still people, the roads are still roads and the sun rises and falls everyday. But the people are Germans! And I did 100 mph on the AutoBahn! And the sun rises and falls over those bright green rolling hills. The culture, traditions and just all around lifestyles just seem so enlightening and bright to me. The houses are painted all shades of pastels, the castles are covered in intricate designs and I still feel like I am looking at pictures.

430861_10151319995042158_866586681_n

551647_10151319992847158_426125037_n

303_10151319995097158_915018090_n

This last week has been Christmas filled, I managed to make it to both Munich and (my hometown) Dorfen’s Christkindlmarkt, which (I promise) I will post for you tomorrow, one with a fellow expat.. yay! Christmas Eve was celebrated and the gifts have been opened. I even managed to make it to a Church here in Germany, and while the thought is what counts, I understood nothing. Happy Birthday, baby Jesus is what I meant and I’m sure the Germans all understand. ;)

418592_10151319995602158_1792463335_n

I haven’t truly been homesick until today, of course, because it’s Christmas and I am 4600 miles away. But, as I’m being all boo-hooey over not being home for Christmas and locking myself up to watch Christmas movies all day in my room, I went upstairs to get some tea. The second I walked into the kitchen, Sophia, only 8 months old screamed, smiled the biggest smile I have ever seen and started crawling as fast as she could to me. Soon after, Eva informed me that she does not want me to feel homesick and they have planned a trip to a near medieval castle for tomorrow.

Moments like this make me so, so glad that I am here. Moments like this make me realize that as much as I miss the people at home, this is where I am meant to be right now. This is exactly where I belong on Christmas. Merry Christmas, with love, from Germany.

398613_10151319992447158_210127035_n

Bakeries & Markets

You don’t know a bakery until you have been to one that a city lives off of. I mean that. Germans love bread. They eat so much of it I can’t keep up. Bread with breakfast, bread with lunch and bread for dinner. Granted, it’s usually different variations (croissants, rolls, sliced breads, breads with seeds, breads with flour, butter brezel <–waaaay too much of this) Bread. They love it and they live off of it. On Thursday, before taking Sophia to her class, we ventured onto the bakery. Talk about heaven.

truffles

donuts

I got a chocolate filled croissant, by Eva’s recommendation. I should have never, ever even tried it. I don’t even like chocolate that much and this was way too good.

DSC00056

After the bakery we headed to Sophia’s Thursday morning class. Its called PEKEIP. Pekiep is the shortened version of parent child program from Prag. Get ready.. This is going to sound strange! It’s about ten babies, all naked, playing for an hour. No diapers, No clothes. The room is about 80 degrees and yes, the babies pee. It’s funny because one mom runs and picks up the baby, while another mom comes running with a rag soaked in cleaner. All ten babies do this, and it actually becomes quite funny. Anyways, an instructor goes around, baby by baby and helps the parents understand how to teach them to learn. It sounds wierd, but these are 8 month old babies learning to walk and nudity in Europe is a normal occasion. Germans don’t giggle or laugh or (gasp!) as nakedness. Obviously, it works and the babies absolutely love it. Plus, It was one of the absolute cutest things I have ever seen. Seriously, imagine ten little baby butts all giggling and interacting with each other. Adorable overload.

After Pekeip and Sophia’s afternoon nap we ventured back into town to get groceries… Being the spoiled American I am I expected a grocery store with carts. Wrong! The produce, meats, cheeses… It’s all outside! Everything is locally grown and as fresh as possible. Plus, you taste everything before you buy it. Step it up, U S of A. This is how shopping should be!

DSC00059DSC00060 DSC00061 DSC00073

And yes, it was all as good as it looks.