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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Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Brilliant!  It won't be long before we see these appearing, I'm sure. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Posted by Picasa  The photo above is of my first great-grandchild. Her father was my first grandchild. She is a delight and of our 5 children and 10 grandchildren, she is the most content and calm baby of them all. We had her in a restaurant for nearly an hour and a half Saturday afternoon and she just cooed away and observed everything around her with glee. She occupied herself by  playing with her little dolly and was all smiles for her Mimi.

What perfect manners for a tiny 5-month old baby girl!

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Posted by Picasa
View of the Main Castle at Burghausen from Outside the Castle Walls.

    I often wonder what it would be like to go back in time and live in a different century;
the 7th or 8th century in Europe, for example. I ponder what life was really like on a day to day basis. Fortunately, much of Europe has preserved the ancient buildings of this time period and today you can discover whole towns that still exist from the Middle Ages so that we might have a glimpse into life as it once was. Many castles in Germany still exist from that stormy period of time that began after the disintegration of the great Roman Empire.

     One such ancient city is Burghausen near the Austrian border. At over 1 kilometer in length, Burghausen Castle is the longest castle in Europe. The oldest documented mention of Burghausen is in the year 1025. However, archaeologists have found remnants of the Bronze, Iron, and Celtic ages as well as the Roman times making it difficult to pinpoint an actual founding date.

                                                           Small Chapel in Ancient City
     Chivalrous knights, huge fortified castles, medieval swords, and damsels in distress are what most of us associate with the Middle Ages.  The castles were initially designed to keep any attacking force out of the city. The fortified home of a powerful warlord, it provided sanctuary during times of strife. 

Inside the Ancient City of Burghausen

     People lived a hard and dangerous life within the fortress walls.  People were born into a social position with specific duties and had little chance of changing their lot in life.  The comfort and safety depended on the work of all of the others. Inside the walls of Burghausen, you can see that it is well maintained and actually has converted all of the buildings into flats where people actually reside today.

 Another view of the Castle Walls from Outside

     Today, Burghausen has grown to incorporate a new and modern city around the original castle walls.  After a legacy of Duke Henry the Lion in 1164, and the subsequent Wittelsbachs, it finally became the second residence of the Lower Bavarian dukes.  The main source of income at that time was from the trade of salt from Hallein (modern-day Austria). 
     In the 14th century, Emperor Louis IV granted it the privilege of becoming the area's administrative and revenue office.   Burghausen experienced an expansion during that time, the golden age,  and then in 1594 lost most of its' income from the salt trade during the establishment of the ducal salt monopoly.
     For 300 years it experienced more administrative and commercial decline.  By the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century the city lay in disrepair and the population dwindled to 2,500 inhabitantsToday, it still would be in shambles if it were not for the Wacker family.
     In 1903 the Wacker-Chemie GmbH was founded.  It was the first ever large-scale producer of acetaldehyde, acetic acid and acetone.  One could safely say that this industrial plant, that now covers over 2 square kilometers and has over 10,000 employees that manufacture thousands of different products in some 150 facilities is responsible for the preservation of the town.  Today, many people reside in the ancient city and the castle and other buildings have been converted into flats.

View from inside castle walls to St. Jakob's Kirche in modern Burghausen

     It's tower is 78 meters high.


Drawbridge where Napoleon Once Stood

     This bridge spanning what was once a moat that had to be crossed to gain entry into the innermost palace of Burghausen Castle.

Beautiful Wooden Carvings on Pillars and a Painted Sign Above the Arch that Reads "1523."

Bavarian Coat of Arms

     Back in medieval times, colorful flags and coat of arms would have decorated the walls of the castle honoring the escapades of the royal knights.

     An Interior View of the Ribbed Vaults Inside the Parish Church

Arched Doorway to Cellar of Castle

     I did not want to contemplate where this doorway led.  Having watched far too many Hollywood versions of dungeons, my imagination was already in overdrive.

                                          Star of David on Door Window

     I have read that there was a Jewish population in Burghausen during WWII.  This Star of David ornament on a door within the castle is further proof.

A View of the Modern City of Burghausen from Atop the Castle Walls.

   The Salzach River surrounds the castle on one side and the Woehrsee, a lake cut from the riverbed of the Salzach River, at the end of the last Ice Age, when the river changed its course. 

The Dual Coats of Arms at the Entrance of the 2nd of 4 Courtyards of Burghausen Castle.

     This represents the alliance between George of Bavaria & Hedwig of Poland.  The left panel features the Bavarian Coat of Arms with lions, while the right panel features the Polish Coat of Arms with a white eagle.
     Burghausen is only an hours drive from Munich and is situated right next to the Austrian border.  It is a lovely drive where you have beautiful views of vistas such as this one of the Austrian Alps or the one below:

     It is a lovely way to spend a day, going back in time to a place of fantasy with jousting, squires, heraldry, Ales, peasant bread, and pottage.  It is easy to let your mind wander to more romantic times, but it is also a reminder of plagues like the Black Death  and famine.  One only has to remember medieval stories like Hansel and Gretel, like most of Grimm's Fairy Tales, to know that they had a basis in reality and illustrated the harsh possibilities of natures whims.  (A sad note is that during the Black Death, oddly enough, concerns over famine were alleviated as the survivors found they had more food available.)
    It is  a fanciful history, but women then were treated as property.  After the crusades, knights returned having learned of adversaries who actually revered their women.  Passion was no longer considered sinful to 11th and 12th century moralists and courtly love became the subject of some of the most famous medieval poems.  Hence, the word "courtesy" in our language today.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Well, at least the weather was finally springlike here in Munchen and as a result, the girls decided to have an outing.  It was barely 50 F, but that didn't stop us. Afterall, it was the first warm day of the season and we weren't going to stay indoors. 

Our outing was to take us to the Englisher Gardens in the center of Munich.  This garden, or park, is larger than Central Park in New York City, but just as beautiful. 

We began our walk by meeting at the Theaterenkirsch pictured above.  It is located near the Residence.  The sun was shining, the sky was blue and we were anxious to spend the morning in nature.

One of the very first things we spotted was this horse and rider.  I know very little about horses, but I could tell this was a practiced rider.  Watching him trot his way through the countryside was thrilling to watch.

A few moments later had us following the river that had been iced over only days before. 

This view was not seen from the ground.  The trees obscure the view from the walking path.  In order to get this view, you have to step into this.


On top of a small artificial hill is this ancient Greek structure.  Built in 1836 under orders from King Ludwig I.  On a great day you get a beautiful view of the Munich skyline and into the Alps in the distance.

Inside of the dome of the structure is the most beautiful decorative painting and detail.  It truly is magnificent.

Another famous structure in the Englisher Garten is the Chinese Tower which was built in 1789.  Around the tower is one of Munich's most famous beer gardens.  It wasn't open yet, but with temperatures flirting in the 60 degree range this week, it is only a matter of days before the crowds begin to descend.  This will have to wait until May for me.  I'm due to head back to the states for a visit.  I doubt they will run out of Augustiner before then.

Beautiful birdhouses such as this one dot the landscape in the Englisher Gartens.  Fancy having this for a home if you were a sparrow?  Pretty posh, eh?

The sparrows are not the only birds living large.  Take a look at these fellow feathered friends.  Life is good!

These ladies did an amazing job of walking from the southern most part of the park to the northern tip.  And we did it all under three hours!  Considering the park is 3.4 sq. kilometers, we didn't do a bad job!

Of course, it's fairly easy to do when you have scenes such as this one at every turn.  I cannot tell you how beautiful this park is and how natural.  There are wildlife sanctuarys, bird sanctuarys, meadows, rivers and lakes.  Honestly, there is something for everyone here in Europe's most famous garden.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


I can be bad sometimes. Really bad.  And this is one of those times where, as the comedian Flip Wilson (remember him?) used to say, "The devil made me do it."

Flip Wilson

And not only am I being naughty, but I am taking sweet pleasure in doing so.  You know, the kind of pleasure you derive from someone elses misery.  But not someone you like or respect or admire. No, someone who you feel has gotten away with something for far too long and deserves his/her comeuppance.  (Now,that's an old word--does anybody still use that word?)  You know, their "just deserts," another old saying for a punishment or retribution that one deserves, but has so far been able to escape.

It's like I have this evil little fellow on my shoulder that is whispering in my ear saying, "Go ahead and tell everyone how you really feel."  Even though I know that by doing so, I'm bound to offend someone, somehow. But I just have to do it, regardless.

Today I learned that HSBC reported that a former IT employee of a Swiss subsidiary HSBC Private Bank, Herve Falciani, stole information on 24,000 customers with Swiss bank accounts. 

The thief stole the information back between 2006 and 2007!  No doubt there will be an investigation to see if HSBC failed to meet legal requirements to prevent data theft. The privacy of their clients has been seriously intruded upon and although they deeply regret it, shares in HSBC were down 0.1 percent at 6.98 pounts ($10.48) on the London exchange today.

Now,I know it's wrong to steal and fortunately none of these accounts have been compromised. The bank contacted all of the customers involved and will not allow any unauthroized access to these accounts.

However,  and this is where the fun begins, the theft could leave some of those (rich international) account holders exposed to prosecution by the .......

Recently, data theft from banks in Switzerland and Liechtenstein was offered to foreign governments (Germany is one of them) seeking to track down nationals who avoided paying their taxes by hiding money in Swiss accounts. And I say, "Rightly so!"  These millions (I don't know, perhaps billions) of dollars are just what our elective countries need during these fiscally trying times when many of their citizens are struggling to make ends meet, overtaxed, and unemployed.

I'm beginning to get that same warm feeling I get at the ending of a good crime novel.
How about you?

Saturday, March 6, 2010


At one time in my not too distant past, I worked summers at a very large department store (think of Chicago and Oprah and you'll guess which one), in the designer department.  What a hellish job it was.  Oh, I loved looking at all of the beautiful styles and fabrics and I thoroughly enjoyed having a part in selecting garments for my clients.  I just wasn't cut out to be a salesperson and try to convince someone to buy something that clearly didn't suit or fit them.  So, in the end, those ladies who made selling designer wear their full-time occupation were more than happy to crawl up over my back and hit their sales quotas in order to earn their commissions.  Me?  I had a full-time job as a teacher and only used this job in the summer to socialize and keep busy.  So, it was no surprise that after that summer, I never returned to hawk Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, or Michael Kors again.

I did learn one thing having that gig, most people wait for the sales to purchase these items and very few pay full price for designer fashion.  I guess that's why ebay, designer outlets, and second hand stores have flourished and the store where I worked is no longer a part of that mall.  It was good to see someone come in and find a perfectly fitting, flattering garment for 25-75% off.  I guess those who were really depending on those commissions to make ends meet dreaded the markdowns, but I took great pleasure in watching someone get a steal.  After all, it was the same garment that hung on the same rack the day before, but this day is was much more affordable.  It wasn't out of style, it wasn't damaged--it was time to bring in more merchandise and they needed the space.

 For years I have been haunted by one shopping experience I had many Christmas' ago.  I was laden down with heavy bags and packages in the middle of our local mall and sitting in the food court before me were four gentlemen at a table sipping cocktails.  They were laughing it up and having a grand old time. Just then, a personal shopper walked up to the group bringing them their purchases, all neatly wrapped in bright Christmas paper and bows.  Inside, I was seething! 

 "Hey, this isn't fair!  How come I have to do all of the legwork for my loved ones and you guys just sit their drinking martinis while someone else does the dirty work?"  I really didn't say this out loud, but if they could have read my thoughts they would have had an earful!
I promised myself that when I could afford it, I would have my own personal shopper. 

 But I have found something much more valuable.  Personal shopping assistance from my own home! 

Trying to shop with online retailers is a maddening experience.  Who has the time to search the web for the best deals?  If only I could give a personal shopper my preferences (sizes, styles, designers, etc.) perhaps they could go and do the "dirty work for me."  Guess what?  They can! 

 It's called Shop it to Me and they check all of the leading retailers for over 700 brands for brands, clothing, accessories, and sizes.  Then...and here's the best part, they send you a personalized e-male alert (Salemail) that features the latest markdowns and secret promotion codes.  Even better, you get to decide how often you want them to email you.

I can't think of a smarter way to shop! 

And to those fellas who thought they had it all figured out in the food court in the mall that Christmastime long ago--eat your hearts out!  I get to shop in my jammies!

Thursday, March 4, 2010


One of our favorite dishes is Garlic Scampi and Linguine.  So easy, but so delicious.  I thought I'd share it with you.

Start by boiling the pasta in a large pot of salted water.

In another saucepan, melt butter over low heat, add white wine, fresh grated parmesean cheese, garlic, fresh parsley, and salt and pepper.

You can use any sort of white wine you wish.  I had this trocken and it worked just fine.

Cook 3 - 5 minutes.

Add the scampi and cook for another 3-4 minutes and voila!  What could be easier? 

It is the sort of dish you can serve to unexpected company and it only takes minutes, yet looks like you've been cooking for hours.

Here is the final presentation with a bottle of white.  Really, all you need for a perfect dinner!



  • 1 pound uncooked linguine or plain pasta
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 tablespoons white wine
  • 2 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined


1.Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

2.In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium low heat; add wine, cheese, garlic, parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer over low heat for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

3.Increase heat to medium high and add shrimp to skillet; cook for about 3 to 4 minutes or until shrimp begins to turn pink. Do not overcook.

4.Divide pasta into portions and spoon sauce on top; garnish with Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley, if desired.