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.

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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.

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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!

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

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My first 24 hours..

So, I’m here and I made it alive and still in one piece, which is really good. (I’m exhausted and still have Jetlag… booo) Anyways, here’s what my life has been the last day or so…

EXHAUSTED.

Leaving sucked. Seriously, it sucked. I was last minute packing and trying to say goodbye to ten people in five hours. Friends, family.. you name it. But it happened, and I even got to say goodbye to the one person I didn’t want to walk away from most. (awwww….)

Sooooo…

Germany, what can I say? First impressions are everything, and even though I am still jetlag ridden and it’s late, I want to post this while the feelings are still fresh. So, the flight. It was long, of course, but I can’t say I am very impressed with SAS Airline’s seat designs. They were the smallest seats I think I have ever flown in, I couldnt get comfortable and thus got no sleep. I did, however; get to see the stars while we were flying over the Alantic. Let me tell you, you have not truly seen the stars until you have seen them over the dark, deep ocean, from 39,000 feet in the air. It was incredible and I stared and stared until I finally felt sleepy. (Fail, never fell asleep.) I did doze off for what seemed to be about 45 minutes and when I awoke, it was light out. That is where I screwed up.  I should have never looked. Instantly my body clock was messed up and I kept trying to tell myself to stop asking questions. It was day now, no matter what time it was back home. The good news: I was next to a perfectly nice old man from Denmark who then helped me navigate Copenhagen airport.. which was very easy to navigate but seemed to never end. I landed in terminal F and had to depart from terminal A. I will say, Denmark has got the US beat ten times over in airports. Why? There was a Victoria’s Secret, Burberry, Apple, Starbucks, Charging stations and pretty much any other top notch store you can imagine strung throughout the airport. It felt like walking through a mall. A very expensive mall. Plus, I boarded my second plane like Mr. President. How freakin’ cute.

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The flight to Copenhagen flew by (literally..haha). The sunrise was absolutely beautiful and just as I started to get comfortable (which was much easier on the smaller plane), the seat belt light went back on and we were decending into Munich. HOLY CRAP. I was finally in Germany. Thank god, my fingers hurt from being crossed so long, hoping everything was right.

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Munich airport was simple, my baggage (all of it) came out quickly and I was on my way. As soon as I walked out of Baggage claim and stopped to look around, I saw Eva approaching me. Sigh… they were real and I was not being sold in the black market. (I really should not joke about that.) Emilia came running up to me, yelling something in German and handed me a rose, a balloon and a huge hug. How freakin’ cute. After meeting, we headed home.

They are so nice and everything I hoped for and imagined. In fact, they are even nicer. My apartment downstairs is just so cute, and so isolated that I love it. As soon as you walk into the house, there are stairs that go both up and down. Which, they spiral in both directions and the railings are rope. How freakin’ cute. (The look. The hardwood floors are not. I fell down the stairs this morning when they were out, and seriously messed up my back. Currently the bottom half is black/red/purple/yellow. JOY. Good thing I brought meds!) Anyways, I was exhausted, so we had dinner. Don’t know what it was, but it was good. I helped get the girls to bed and then I headed to bed myself. I missed home. I miss my mom and my cats.

This morning, jetlag was ten times worse. It’s not helping that I am still keeping touch with everyone back home wondering how my arrival went, that after the kids are asleep I then communicate back home for an hour or two. There are some things and people I just refuse to lose over this trip, so I will just lose sleep. I can sleep when I’m in Chicago (haha).

Today was fantastic, I still missed home. I still questioned everything. The scenery was beautiful but I still hadn’t seen much of the area since it was dark last night. And this.. this ladies and gentlemen.. is where my first impression was made.

Today, we had to pick Emilia up from school (“I don’t need my good camera, we’re just going to run an errand… WRONG). We also had to set me up with a German bank account (that was fun), and sign into the Town Registration Office (Bloggy friends, I don’t know what it’s called..sorry!) Let me tell you a little about Dorfen…..

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There is no way I am not in a movie.

That’s exactly how I feel. The town is just way too freakin’ cute. (As you can tell, I really like this saying since I have been here, it’s all I can think of to describe how I feel at the moment. Sorry, jetlag) Anyways, the buildings are all different colors, all stuck together in a perfect square with only one way in and out. It’s all connected and driving under a little archway is the only way in. The Christmas Market is set up and the booths match the buildings behind them.  Dorfen is just a movie prop, I know it. It’s got to be and they just haven’t told me yet.

The matching Market and Buildings. Why isn't the USA this cute?!!!

The matching Market and Buildings. Why isn’t the USA this cute?!!!

One lane to get in and out of City Centre. Wait your turn or forever hold your peace.

One lane to get in and out of City Centre. Wait your turn or forever hold your peace.

I am not sure if all of Germany is like this or if I just struck gold, but seeing Dorfen today really changed my views from this morning. I was really bummed and almost questioning this. Not now. Now I am so stoked to be here. Now I have started to try to teach Emilia English  Now I am ready to go. I still miss home, of course, and I still miss my mom and my cats.. and I still think I am missing out on things back home.. but I don’t think that will ever go away. I think at this point my best advise would be: the first 24 hours are the hardest. Because now, I am so happy.. so relieved and just so all around ecstatic that I am living in Europe.

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Did you hear that? I am living in Europe.

How freakin’ cute.

I’m baaaacckk…

Only this time, I’m in Germany.

 

I bet you skimmed over that sentence. I’M FINALLY IN GERMANY! All the planning, all the hard work and stressing.. it’s over. The family is everything I expected, I am in love with my little apartment. I am here. I am alive. I am well.

However; jet lag is a sneaky biotch, so I will have to write you the details of my trip tomorrow because right now I can not keep my eyes open. See you all then!

 

-Hanley

It’s the final countdown.. da da da daaaaaaa din da din da din!

I sure hope you got the music reference. If not, you can listen to it here, because I have been singing that in my head for the last week. 7 days, 6 days, 5 days.. It still seemed so far off. It wasn’t. But it still hadn’t really hit me. The jitters and the stress hit me, but the fact that I am moving across the world, still had not made its appearance. Tonight, however; it has. Tonight my bags are packed and my room is all cleaned out. Tonight, I am savoring every bit of home I can because….

In less than 24 hours, I will be on my way to Germany. In less than 24 hours, I will say goodbye to everyone and everything I know and be on my way to the unknown. On my way to German people, German food, German culture and all but everything American and everything I am used to. In less than 24 hours, I will be on a flight (scared shitless) and on my way. The final countdown, is over. It’s here. Germany is here.

Chef Klaus Bier Stube

As much of a mess that the trip to the Chriskindlemarket Chicago turned out to be, our reservations at Chef Klaus Bier Stube were the complete opposite. My family made these reservations as a goodbye since I was leaving for Germany in 5 days. Naturally, I had to check them out on Facebook and online before arriving and I found nothing but good reviews, managing 4.4 out of 5 starts so I had high expectations. Ranking as the best German restaurants to eat at near Chicago, IL we couldn’t wait to arrive.

Chef Klaus Bier Stube is located in Frankfurt, IL and is open year round for business. We had never been here before, but it was everything we had hoped for and more. It was the most welcoming, charming, festive and just perfectly accurate German restaurant.. and the food was incredible! We enjoyed Oysters Rockafellar for an appetizer, served on the half shell topped with a Bavarian creamed spinach and Bacon and they were AMAZING. For our meal we split several entrees. The Weisswurst was smooth and subtle just as it should be, all we were missing was eating it at 6am with a warm Weissbier. We also tried the Rouladen, which is a sliced beef sirloin, rubbed in mustard and wrapped around a dill pickle. I originally heard of this dish on Food Network, so naturally I had to try it as it was the most unique item I could find. Surprisingly, the taste of the dill pickle gets almost completely cooked out through cooking, so it wasn’t at all what I expected. It was perfectly spiced and super juicy though, so you bet I ate every bit of it. I managed to try the Leberkndelsuppe or, liver dumpling soup which I would recommend for anyone looking for something different, authentic and light. We finished off with a few Augstiner beers, Radlers and Apple Pie shots right after we devoured the entire Apfelstrudel. Although a little pricey upon first viewing the menu, it was worth every dime once the food arrived. This is the most authentic German cuisine I have found and the owner is so interactive and amazing with every guest who enters. Enjoy the true Germany environment with loud music, plenty of Augstiner Beer and a warm, inviting family welcome when you walk in the door.

Germany: Chicago Style!

Well hello! Here I am again taking forever for another post, but, I promise.. I will get better at this whole thing as time goes on and I am finally settled in Germany. (I hope) So, this is me apologizing.. I am sorry, this last week has been just crazy. I have been busy gathering all kinds of last minute items for my trip, packing (then unpacking and repacking), finalizing plans with everyone at home, attempting to not leave anyone out of my goodbye’s and trying to work a full time job. Which, is still working out great.. I am still on cloud nine from last weeks little work inspiration story.

I did find time however; to make it to Germany. Well, sort of. Last Wednesday, my mom surprised me with this little invitation. Inside, were reservations for an all German Bier Stube on Saturday, and that same day I found out that Chicago holds its own Christkindlmarket! Seriously, how cool is this?!

As I counted down the days to Saturday, I talked to my host family again and they were so eager for my little Germany day here in the States. I was too, to be honest. I couldn’t wait to see what these markets everyone talks about are all about. And I was so excited to try the German food! If only…

What I learned about the Christkindlmarket Chicago.

1. Do not go on a weekend. That’s it. I learned one thing.

Seriously, this was absolutely horrible. I thought this was going to be an awesome adventure to get me prep’d for the real deal. Wrong. I was reminded of why I never go to anything that could even minutely be described or associated with a “tourist activity” in downtown Chicago. When you live so close and visit so often, you almost forget this is a top destination for vacationers from all over the world. You forget, that is, until you find  your self sucked into the abiss of said attraction. Welcome to Christkindlmarket Chicago. After walking the complete opposite direction 10 blocks, and having to find our way back, we found our selves leaving almost as fast as we arrived. There were so many people, we could not move. I don’t think the word ‘crowded’ even fits this place. I’m talking your boobs awkwardly rubbing the old man in front  of you while his wife is shoved up your butt, kind of packed. The lines were so long we could not even begin to think about waiting in them for some schnitzel  (But let’s be honest, I went for the Gluewein anyways!) I didn’t get the Gluewein either. The line was even longer than the schnitzel. I actually found myself saying, well.. growling “Screw it! I will just wait for the real deal,” and trying to get through the crowd just so we could leave. Who would have thought so many Chicago-ans even knew about this market? Apparently, they all did. All but this one.

Well, I did get some pictures to share, and it sure did (almost) look like the rest of yours. Except the fact that it was nestled between skyscrapers and screaming taxis.

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Germany was actually the complete opposite direction. How ironic!

 

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I think they have the concept down?

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Oh Chicago, how I will miss you so.

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It wasn’t a total wash. My friend and I shared many laughs over the experience and at least added it to our “never attempt again list” Plus.. we ended up making it back in time for a perfect little reservation at the Bier Stube…

Life lessons…

We all get them. Weather good or bad, every single one of us has hit that moment where we know we have just been taught a lesson. That, ‘okay, I’m listening’ moment strikes up at least a time or two before we realize that maybe we should have learned the last time this happened. Weather it be leaving without preparing, sharing more than you should, borrowing something you shouldn’t have, or even just not being as polite as we should have been.. You have been there. I have been there. We have all been there and I particularly went there again today.

For those who don’t know, I leave for Germany in only one week and three days. WOAH. This last week has been nothing but stress. Will I have enough money? What if something happens? I’m going to miss my mom so much. I’m going to miss my cats. I can’t do this. I can do this. I will do this. Will I get the luggage on Black Friday? Okay, I got the luggage. Does it weigh too much? What if I forget something? Make up! I must stock up on anything American that Germany may not have.. including my favorite brand of makeup. (Dream matte mouse, for those curious) Is my purse big enough? I must buy a new purse. or three.

Anyways, back to the point. I work on commission. I set businesses up with the ability to accept credit cards. I do not get paid hourly or by how many calls I make. I get paid per account I sign up, chase down, stalk and get accepted. I average about 4 accounts a week. This month, the owners presented a bonus to all sales account managers. Get 20 accounts and get a $1000 check at the end of the month. Totally feesable.. right? Work extra hard and it will happen. Wrong. Thanksgiving week is a killer in this business. No one will even touch anything regarding a business the week of Thanksgiving. America just shuts down for a week. Unless we are talking about a retail store, in that case, they never shut down. The week of Thanksgiving set me to 8 apps for the month of November. That meant I needed 12 apps in the last week. Not happening.

When I got to work Monday, the bonus was mentioned. I said right then and there, “It’s not happening.” They said it was possible. I doubted them. Four apps a week was my average, nine apps a week was the company’s record for a single agent, and I needed 13  to confirm the bonus. It was unheard of and impossible. This is how the week went. Continue reading

I know your out there…

So, as some of you know (& some of you don’t) I am super new to this whole blogging world. New as in, I still watch my stats and I still answer every comment made and I still press that little “Publish” button before I entirely edit.  I still can not figure out how to make it look exactly the way I want. I still don’t have a button and my twitter page shares with my personal one. Oh well. And, I still feel the need to come up with blog post ideas daily. Well, almost daily. When I first started this blog it was a lot harder after my first two novel length posts to come up with something new, but now that Germany is creeping up out of no where on me, and my nerves are soaring through the roof, its getting easier and easier to find things to blog about and I hope that this post gets me some awesome results! Stats, Stats, Stats. Just kidding (kind of).

So far, there are two things that I have noticed about blogging. Well, three. One.. Blogger bullying. It seriously exists. If you post a post even somewhat similar to another bloggers post (Say, two lines) they freak. And I mean really freak. They will bash you via twitter and tell all their little bloggy friends. I am new to this, please remember so maybe this is just one instance and I was the lucky one to stumble on it, but hey, it happened. Anyways, two and three are the goodies. I’ve noticed that pretty much everyone else in the blogging world is super awesome and everyone wants to be friends. Alex, from ifandsandbutts was my first blog friend and she has linked me up to other blogs and helps me with stupid questions all the time. She is also in Germany and hopefully I will meet her soon enough.

Last but not least, I have noticed that the blogging world is HUGE and a lot more people frequent it than I ever imagined before I started my new found addiction. There are blogs about literally everything. Blogs about people. Blogs about places. Blogs about funny things. Blogs about dogs. Blogs from an old lady’s perspective of the teenage life. It all exists & this last little tidbit is what brought me to this post. Continue reading

Who me? It’s an interview!

 

Hey, look! TheMikebehere trusted me enough to write for his blog. It’s just a simple interview, but you should still go and pay him a visit and read it! Mike is a fellow Aupair in Germany as well, who is already in the middle of it all! I can not wait to join him! You can read it here.

 

“If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.” – Stephen King

 

Pinterest…

I spend hours. I mean hours, and I know I am not the only one on this never-ending website. Pinterest is where I found myself tonight, once again falling into its black hole of endless recipes I will probably never make, crafts I will never get around to, inspiring quotes I will never remember when they are needed and clothes I will never have the budget to afford. But yet, I still find myself sucked into the abyss at least once a week.

Tonight, however; as soon as I went to give in the my never ending addiction I stopped myself. Why? For you! Everyday I think about new posts to post, or new pictures to share but these last few weeks I just have not had any time. I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I went to see my niece, Kailyn this weekend and was consumed with her cuteness all weekend (plus, I had no cell service because they live in the middle of nowhere, thank you for having my back, Verizon).

Anyways, I’m sorry. Between my work schedule, my mom buying a brand new car, personal life, preparing to leave, Thanksgiving, and Black Friday my life is totally consumed. But, if there is anything I have really realized this last week, it’s Americans.

Americans. Let that sink in a moment. The red white and blue, “land of opportunity”, be thankful for what you have and then fight for it the very next day… Americans.

Weather you breathe red, white and blue or sing to the tune of something other than ‘The Star Spangled Banner’, Americans are known all around the world.  And if there is anytime of year that American’s truly stand up to the crazy reputation we are known for, it begins with the week of Thanksgiving.

Your grinning. That’s because you know exactly what I am talking about.

By Sunday, grocery stores are packed with mothers from every neck of the woods emptying the shelves for the upcoming feasts on Thursday, which are usually filled with unwanted family members all trying to impress one another while trying to keep peace and to not ending up in an emergency room. Well, not always. But speaking for many Americans in many different situations, that is often the case… and that is just the beginning . Then, we have the real life Hunger Games.  Black Friday.  May the odds be ever in your favor.

Every year I tell myself, “I will never do this again” as I am standing in line for countless hours to save a buck. And yet every year, here I am.

This year, we were so lucky to be among the first 100 people into Kohls. Black Friday is insane. This year, I actually experienced my first fights, injuries and arguments over sales. I waited for three hours, in the 35 degree weather, because they had an awesome sale on luggage. Apparently, so did everyone else. We also got to witness  40 or so full grown adults running up the down escalator.. half falling-the other half trampling the less fortunate. It’s amazing the things a 60 year old grandma will for a cashmere sweater on sale. Anyways, I made it in, I made it out. I am alive and well.

Extremely exhausted, cursing everyone out and stumbling home like a zombie at the end of the apocalypse come 5am, I did get my brand new luggage and my traveling outfit. (Which, in case you have lost count that ‘travelling’ is in TWO WEEKS!) Plus, I got to spend some awesome boding time with mom, whom I am going to miss so much. (Excuse the terrible photo quality, This was off my cell phone around 1am.)

All in all, I hope everyone escaped the madness, stayed safe and had a great holiday.. injury and stress free. However, being American, would really be the same if that were true?

“Here’s some advice. Stay alive.”

– Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games