EXPATS AGAIN! Experiencing other cultures while enriching our global view.



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Munich, Germany
I am married to the love of my life and am finally able to shower him with all of the attention he deserves. I am now retired and living the life here in Europe. I am an American, he is an Australian, and this is our second overseas address. The first was Shanghai, China and now Munich, Germany. Come along and live the life with us as we continue our adventure of discovering all Europe has to offer.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

One Saturday in Munich

I was hoping the photo above would catch your attention (tee, hee). It's a frozen Latte Macchiato and it was delicious! A big scoop of vanilla ice cream was frozen and inserted into the drink with a straw. Yummy, as long as you didn't lift the straw. If you did, the whole scoop of frozen ice cream came with it!

This restaurant was spotted in Rosenheimer Platz. We didn't eat there, so we can't recommend it, foodwise; however, as far as ambiance goes, we would rate it a 10!

This Saturday we went to the Craft Fair and Beer Fest. These darling children were dressed for the festivities in their lederhosen and dirndls. I asked their mum if I could photograph them and before she could reply, they all rushed together and formed this pose. What cutie pies!

OK, I'm not quite sure what the picture above was advertising at the fair, but I had to shoot it because I thought it was a throwback from the past.. In my imagination, it looked a bit Art Deco. Since it was so colorful, I thought I'd share it with you. (Have you heard that shoulder pads, from the 80's are back??)

Saturday began by taking the train to the Rosenheimer Platz and then walking along this bike/walking path next to the Isar river. Once we had gone a good ten minutes along the river, we walked two blocks parallel to the river and found the Pauliner Beer Garden where the Craft Fest was in full swing.

Above is a photograph of one of the bridges criss-crossing the Isar. There isn't much water in this part of the river so the Germans lay down blankets and sunbathe in the creek bed. I guess when you don't have a beach nearby, any body of water will do.

Every once in a while you see an angler tossing out his line like the one below. Whether or not he actually catches a fish, I couldn't tell you. But this guy was in the zone and cast out, drew it back and cast out again oblivious to any passersby--especially those with cameras.

Another fisherman in the Isar river.

It wasn't all fishermen. The above photo was taken on the Isar as well. It is a pleasant surprise to come along such a sight. One minute you think you are in a contemporary city, and the next you're viewing castles and palaces. Amazing!
The above photo is a part of the craft fair. In some respects it reminded me of a County Fair back home (minus any animals--No, I take that back, there was a ride with live horses.)

Along the river we were treated to the scene above. I had to smile because when we lived in Shanghai, the older community had an outdoor chess game too.

It has been many years since I heard an organ grinder play. This guy had a stuffed monkey on top of his organ grinder--not quite the real deal, but it still brought back old memories.
The above photo was at the craft fair, but they are live flowers put into bouquets. The lilacs and roses gave off the most intoxicating scents.

One of our weakness', both Steve and myself, is bread (brot, in German). It is plentiful, freshly baked, and on nearly every corner. We couldn't avoid it if we tried, and we're decidedly not trying.

I had to photograph this statue on the corner of a building. I am sure that Europeans go about their daily chores entirely blinded by the treasures surrounding them. While I stand with my mouth agape looking at a bas relief or an architectural adornment, the Germans just keep on walking right by. Sad.

This little fellow was carted around the fair in his designer bag. When I took the photo, his owner decided to set him down, in his carry bag, in the center of the walkway. You couldn't help but "ooooh" and "awwww." You can tell he is a tiny bit spoiled and I swear he posed for his photo too!

This bit of art was decorating a pipe organ set out in the midway at the fair. Quite elaborate and very colorful, I couldn't resist it.

This hat drew my attention. The man was hawking baskets-- all kinds of baskets. There were handbags, hampers, picnic baskets, baby strollers, bird cages, and shelves, just to name a few. But he was the only one with a basket hat--surprising as that is.

Now this wee one had the right idea. Cuddle up with your favorite teddy bear and let mom and pop pull you around Munich while you take a well earned nap.

Friday, April 24, 2009

It Can't Get Any Better than This!

I thought you might like to take a look at the neighbors homes now that the foilage has given our neighborhood a new look. Everything is in FULL bloom at the moment and we are basking in sunlight most of the time. Today is was full of sunshine, but it was darn right cold and windy. You would think with so much sun there would have been some heat with it! But, I shouldn't complain as the weather in Munich has been made to order for the last month.

Lilacs, tulips, wisteria, baby's breath, and lilly's of the valley have already poked their heads out of the earth to make themselves known. Trees, for the most part, are filling out their branches with feathery, green leaves and some are giving off the sweet scents of spring. Neighbors have begun their spring planting of annuals and perrinials in the certainty that spring is here to stay.

With all of this good weather, I have gone out and purchased a wheely bag as Steve calls it. Actually, it looks a lot like a carry on bag for traveling, but it's wheels are larger and it weighs next to nothing. Women here use it for grocery shopping, so, "When in Rome...."

Some of you have asked if I go to the small shops as I had hoped to when I was back in the States. Although I do have a choice, I have made the conscious effort to only shop at the local shops --avoiding the "chain" markets. Steve and I did this back in the States and it's just as good of an idea here, where the economy is showing the same downturn as the rest of the world.

The farmers bring their produce in each morning and there is an outdoor market with fresh vegetables, fruits, and flowers. There is a cheese shop, a fresh fish shop, bakeries, wine, chocolate, and a pastry shop in the same square surrounding the open air market.

This is the local "Viktualmarket" (I think I spelled that correctly) in the center of our little village. Notice the lady shopping with her "Wheely Bag?" Just imagine a much sleeker, younger, more stylish woman and you have me (in my dreams, LOL). During the day, most of the people in town are the retirees, like ME. (I still get excited at the thought that I don't ever have to work again--if I don't want to.) At 5:00 PM the place becomes mayhem. Train, bus, and subway commuters from all directions descend on their little village to do the quick shopping before heading home. Since all stores begin closing their doors at 6:00 PM sharp, you have to be a very skilled shopper to find what you need before closing time. Forget shopping on Saturday--all of Germany who works is considering the same thing. Forget shopping on Sunday. Nothing is open in Germany on Sundays except dining establishments.

Here is the local butcher's shop. I have some interesting stories to tell you about shopping for meat. Bottom line, shop in a store where the meat is fresh and not packaged. Also, take time to translate words like "Hackenfleisch" before you take it home and think it's chicken. I think you get the idea....lot's of wasted preparation time and a quick call to the pizza shop. We have a delightful Thai restaurant that delivers and they also make sushi. In a pinch, that will do as well.
Steve and I decided that we were going to make the most of the park in front of our building. From time-to-time we plan on taking a bottle of wine, some cheese, and
fresh baked bread across the street and enjoy this view.

Not a bad way to spend the evening and enjoy a glass of vino. We are very happy here and life seems to suit us just fine. If we get the urge for excitement, central city Munich is only a few train stops away. But so far, we are loving the tranquility and the beauty that is right outside our door.
One jump on our bike and we are transformed to another setting in another time. The best part is that you can stop wherever you wish, take out a book, and relax on a bench nearby. With bike trails everywhere and benches every quarter mile or so, it is an easy city to enjoy.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Dachau, Dachau, Dachau

Sunday is fast becoming our day to explore. It's not like we are on a quest to conquer every Biergarten in Munich, but I have to laugh when I download my photos. Darn, if there isn't a photo of Steve or I, or both of us, hailing one of those liter sized mugs full of beer. I don't want to give the impression that we're becoming flaming alcoholics, usually that liter is split between the two of us, and in this Sunday's case, between three of us. Our plan was to meet Hans, Steve's boss, for a couple of hours in Dachau where he lives. While he and Steve discussed work over a latte at a cafe (we were instructed to use the word "cafe," not "coffee shop," which is a place in Amsterdam where you can purchase drugs legally --HA!), and I would walk my way up the hill to the palace, or "Schloss" as it is called in German.

Being a local now, and not a tourist, I know what a short walk up a hill in Europe means. It means what you see on the left, but multiply that by four. This was only the first set of steps up the small hill. Toledo is flat, flat, flat. This city has not only bikers, walkers, roller bladers, and joggers, it makes climbing a national pastime! Senior citizens are now following a huge craze that began in Norway--"Nordic Tracking." You see them everywhere with their ski-like poles flinging at a frantic pace while they attempt to set land records with "Giant leaps of Mankind." What has happened? In a month I went from a casual stroll on a level surface to a frenzied race with other gray haired men and women in an Alpine Competition! This can all be a "Good Thing," as Martha Stewart says, I keep telling myself.

Of course, the purpose of all of this climbing is for a scene like the one on the left. Now used as a banquet hall, this once was the summer residence of royalty in Dachau; The House of Wittlebauch during the 1500's. The gardens are only now
beginning to show the promise of splendor. Verdant fields and orchards surround the stately manor and encompass a vast amount of acreage in this small city of Dachau. It is divided by a river crisscrossed with many small bridges. In all, to travel the entire property with a bike would take hours.

While I was whiling away the hours with my trusty friend, my Canon, Steve and Hans were wrapping up their meeting. They met me at the exit and we headed back to Munich until Hans discovered his cell phone (Handi) was missing! After retracing his afternoon activities, he was fortunate enough to have a found it. A resident discovered it in his driveway and when we went there to look, he brought it out of his house and handed it to Hans. I've been told Munich is very safe and its' residents very honest. This was proof of that claim and I smiled with quiet contentment that we had been transferred to a city I'm proud to say is, for the most part, safe and its citizens generally do the right thing with respect to their neighbors.

I titled this entry as "Dachau, Dachau, Dachau," because it took us another trip back to Dachau to find a very special biergarten to enjoy the remainder of the afternoon. We wern't aware that biergartens had a heirarchy. Hans wanted us to experience one that was on the grounds of another Schloss. ( There are Schlosses everywhere in Bavaria! Is this why American's say they're busy getting "Schlossed"?)
What a perfect ending to a perfect day. All of my favorite things. Travel, adventure, beer, photography, my hubby, beer,and stair climbining (yeah, sure). Oh, and
did I forget about the beer?



Saturday, April 18, 2009

I Love Saturdays in Munich

Today Steve and I had a blast driving around Munich in this gorgeous Mini Cooper. It had a double sun roof and we opened it up to let the sun shine in and headed off to the Auto Bahn. Steve has always wanted to drive one of these and today he got his wish. We had some errands to do today and we needed a car so he leased it for the weekend. It's a great car, not so good on the gas, but a lot of fun--especially when you're going 120 mph! Even at that speed, people were passing us!
One of the errands we had to do was to purchase a TV. Due to the Mini Cooper, our choice of screens was rather limited. We didn't opt for the gigantous screen we have back in the states. This time we decided to keep it moderate and not have the TV screen overtake our living room. A modest 32 inches is all the Mini could hold.
As you can see on the left, Steve has just enough room for the TV to fit in the boot. By the end of the day, we had crammed in the following:
a. New pair of shoes for Chris
b. A docking station for Chris' i-phone.
c. A large planter, two geraniums and four pots of pansies.
d. A new hat for Chris & a new wallet.
e. Four bottles of wine.
f. French bread.
g. Whipping Cream (the kind you have to whip! No Cool Whip here)
h. Parmesean Cheese
i. Ice cube trays (Two for a buck!!)
j. Hooks for bathrobes in the bathroom
k. New rug for the foyer
l. Two sided sticky tape to keep the run from sliding on the tiles.
m. Two adults
I may have missed an item or two, but you get the picture. We were crammed in the Mini and it was then that we decided not to purchase one. They're an awful lot of fun to drive, but really not practical for us. Besides, where would another passenger go?

After all of the shopping, we were famished and decided to visit one of the quaint little coffee shops in Pasing. This one happens to be an authentic Sicilian Cafe with baked pastries. (Leave it to Steve to find the best pastries in town! ) The photo on the left describes one of their signature dishes. If you've ever been to a chocolate fondue restaurant, you will understand the concept. They will set up a pot of heated, milk chocolate on your table and serve you various tidbits to dip. If you would prefer dark chocolate, they will accomodate you. In fact, if you want kirsch or any other possible liqueor flavoring you could dream of, inside of the chocolatey liquid, it is also available. This has to be the most decadent of pastry shops I have ever visited. Needless to say, I can picture us here on a cold, snowy afternoon with a steaming cup of hot chocolate at this shop. Cheers!
The pastries weren't too shabby either. It must be a favorite of the Italian community in Munich because while we were there at least seven Italians dropped in for their afternoon cappacino and a tray of these delightful pastries. I've only photographed a small section of the display case, but use your imagination. Every conceivable pastry was represented. You know what this means....more bike riding!


Photos courtesy of "Creative Commons"

Steve and I took a drive this evening to Dachau. It was a 30 minute drive from Munich. Steve had seen it before and almost picked out a place for us to live there. He said it was full of life and lots of great shops and cafes. I asked him to take me there, but the real reason I wanted to go was to see the concentration camp.
Photo courtesy of "Creative Commons"

I don't know what I expected to see. I had heard that there was a memorial and that you could go and see the camp. At every turn I asked Steve, "Where do you think it is?" None of the buildings looked old enough and certainly none looked like a building I had seen in my history book. I was expecting a barracks type building, at the most. Instead, I saw a compound with a concrete wall that had barbed wire at the top. It was an errie feeling to be on that ground and my heart sank. I will never forget the day I saw Dachau.

Photo courtesy of "Creative Commons"

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Catching Up to Do

Saint Ottilien - One of the villages Steve and I rode our bikes through on Monday, Ap. 13th, 2009.

Here is a birds'-eye-view of Saint Ottilien that Steve and I bicycled through on Monday, April 13th. We pretty much stuck to the bike trail on the outside of the village (the bottom road on the photo) heading South to the Ammersee (lake). Between villages you could bike on the trail in and amongst the fields and orchards through the countryside. It was a beautiful, gentle 76 degrees and the breeze from pedaling the bike was a pleasant respite.

I have to preclude this with the fact that I haven't biked in years and going over ten miles was a milestone for me. I've committed to a bike ride each day for 30 to 45 mins. to keep my heart pumping and to start-kick my metabolism. So far, to this date, I've dropped 5 lbs. That would be in four weeks. Not a staggering amount, but it's a start.

It is easier here, in Germany, to have a healthier lifestyle. You only have to look out of your window to see joggers, bicyclists, and people walking in droves throughout the day. A constant reminder of what "I should be doing." Since we haven't purchased a car yet, I really have no choice but to walk or bike if I need anything. Yet, we really do need a car if we care to bring back large items, travel outside of the train/bus/subway line, or have friends and relatives go on expeditions with us. So, Uncle Fred and Jaci (my mother-in-law from Australia), we won't be walking you "everywhere." We have some excursions planned and you can rest assured, we will have a car by the time you arrive!

This is as far as we have come with the inside. All of the boxes are unpacked, but not everything is yet in its' right place. To add to our consternation is the light fixture situation. We've purchased them all (17 in total), but we still have to commission an electrician to install all of them. Since it was a four-day holiday this past week, we couldn't reach a soul. Steve is in Nuremburg today, all day, so perhaps tomorrow we can work on finding one willing to spend a day here installing light fixtures.

Our art has not been hung yet either and that will be a days' work in itself. We have some overlarge pieces that need to be hung and some of the art is in sections. This I leave to Steve, the engineer. His mathematical skills are far more advanced than mine. Being as "right-brained" as I am, I can "eyeball it" and come somewhat close, but I guess we shouldn't fiddle with experimenting with lots of holes; something I'm an expert at!

So, it's good to be somewhat settled and at the very least, be able to locate a toothbrush without digging through boxes. Now our concern is what to do with all of the paper from the boxes! At the moment we've found a corner in our storage and when we have our car we'll deliver it to the many locations throughout the city for recycling.

My final duties are to locate a doctor, begin classes in German, and to have a TV installed. Then, I think life will be fairly normal, for an American overseas. The sooner I can speak German, the better I will understand what is happening. For example, there is a sign posted near the mailbox and, of course, being in German, we can't comprehend it. However the word, "Achtung!" stands out and I have watched Colonel Klink on "Hogan's Heroes" when I was little and I seem to recall it means, "Attention," or possibly "Danger." I also recall seeing it on a golf course in Australia near a pond. I guess they wrote it in many languages, because the gist was this:

Be careful when retrieving balls from the water. Crocodiles!

I doubt if there are crocodiles in or near my mailbox, but there is a pond across the street. Nevertheless, I'm going to have to jot the message down and type it into Babelfish to find out exactly what it is that we should practice caution with. See, learning German is not a luxury here, it's a necessity!!

So, I'm off to do my daily ride with my camera at my side. I'll shoot anything that attracts my eye and let you be the judge! Photography is my passion and I have a whole new environment to discover!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

All In a Day's Bike Ride

Monday was a holiday in Germany, so Steve suggested we go for a bike ride to Amersee Lake, Southwest of Munich. To do this we had to ride our bikes to the train station (3 minutes), hop on the train and go west to Geltendorf. Then we began our journey through German countryside. We passed an abbey, a couple of forests, a pasture full of cows, a couple of tiny towns such as Turkenfeild and Landsburg au Lech, and a few rivers and streams. We stopped for lunch at a small village and had schnitzel and German potato salad in their outside beer garden. I had my first taste of "Hacker-Pschorr" beer and now it's a favorite.

We passed this fellow early on in the bike ride just outside of Graefefling. Across the was was an old water pump and trough with water flowing icy cold into a trough.

Here is Steve along the bike path leading our way through meadows and forests of the German countryside. All of Germany has such bike paths making biking anywhere a pleasure. We were just outside of St. Ottillilien when I took Steve's photo. Below is a photo of the abbey from the same bike path.

Steve and I did a bit of research and learned that St. Ottilien is where many of the Jews were sent after they were released from the Nazi concentration camps. St. Ottiliens' is the location where the U.S. Army had a camp that housed the survivors. Two American soldiers, Edward Herman and Robert Hilliard, who were stationed in Germany at the close of World War II, discovered the "horrendous treatment of displaced Jews," in this camp. They stole rations from their own mess hall and smuggled it to the camp. Next, they started a letter writing campaign that caught the attention of President Truman. He ordered an investigation and it let to the end of the abuse. Hilliard wrote a memoir about his experiences at it became a film. You can read about the film here: http://www2.bc.edu/~michalcj/displaced.html This film was recently featured at the Toronto and Boston Jewish Film Festivals.

You can listen to the bells at St. Ottiliens on You Tube by clicking on this link:://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YH4_wI5zyzI

After leaving St. Ottilien, we headed South to Windach, a small town of 3,636 people. It was here that Steve and I had lunch outdoors at the Guesthouse of Johann Saxenhammer. The meal was beyond description. He recommended that we start with a cream of asparagus soup and then try the restaurants' famous schnitzel that everyone in Bavaria travels miles to taste.

After our meal, we noticed a church across the street. Steve saw a graveyard on the grounds so we spent some time reading the headstones.

We came to the conclusion that most of the people buried here were probably prominent citizens of this small town. What we saw next was something neither of us can explain.

BONES!! They were encased in a shrine on either side of the churches door. We have no idea why, nor whom they belong to. Just one of those mysteries you find on a days' bike ride! Below are photos of the inside of the church--truly spectacular!! There were frescoes, gilded statues, art, and religious icons that were so grand you would hardly expect to see them in a small town in Bavaria.