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



My photo
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.

Subscribe Now: Feed Icon

Thursday, December 30, 2010


Winter in Munich is magical.  Small Bavarian villages that resemble the Christmas Villages that sit on your shelf or windowsill are blanketed in frosty shades of white.  Time appears to stand still as you admire the centuries old architecture seemingly frozen in time.  Golden lights flicker inside of small lead glass windows and smoke puffs out of chimneys as in days past.

But life does not stand still.  When the snow begins, the locals are out in full force.  Alpine walkers, joggers, cross country skiers, sledding, ice skating and even bicyclists cover the landscape. 

These photos are all were taken in front of our house that sits on the edge of a city park.  A river runs through the park and a pond that becomes a skating rink is directly across from us. 

A small hill is the neighborhood sledding destination so there are always plenty of families with their hot cocoa watching their little ones sled or ski down the hill.  Sounds of laughter and fun emanate in the early evening air as parents home from work head out of doors for some evening sledding with their tots.

 Rosy cheeked little ones scamper up the hills in anticipation of yet another exhilarating ride down the slippery slope. 

It is the perfect bunny hill for the beginner skier.  Here, a grandmother is teaching her grandchild the proper technique for skiing downhill. 

 (photo by Martin Addendorf)

Here Munchen locals are on the Nymphemberger canal in front of the palace playing a game that reminds me of curling or bocci on ice. ( If you know the name of this game, please leave me a reply.  I have been asking expats and no one seems to know it.)  It is quite popular here and they even play it on the frozen pond across from our house.

Crowds of people on the canal in front of the palace.  In spite of the cold temperatures, people turn out to watch the sport and have a brat and bier (or a toasty glüwein).

(photo by Martin Addendorf)

The locals aren't the only ones who seem to make the most of the season.  Check out the swans and ducks in front of the palace.  

They aren't going to let a little snow stop their fun either!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Time to hook up with Joyce for Wednesday's Hodgepodge.

1. Share your Christmas Eve traditions.
     Almost always includes a buffet style dinner.  No gifts.  That's for Christmas morning. Likely will include a church service.  If there are toys to assemble, Christmas Eve is the designated time for engineering & eggnog.  It will always include family and if we're home, a fireplace. 

2. What was the best book you read in 2010? (we're not going to include The Bible here)

      The Reluctant Fundamentalist, by Mohsin Hamid.  A short book about a Pakistani man who decides to leave his high-flying life in America after a failed love affair and the terrorist attacks of 9/11. 

 Our international book club here in Munich ranked it #1 over 11 other books this year.

3. Do you have pets and if so do you allow them on the furniture?
    NO and NO!! 
(But when we retire, yes and yes!).

4. What event from 2010 are you most thankful for?
     A family member and a close friend have both had a scary bout with breast cancer this year and both are now recovered. I thank God for this blessing.

5. What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before.
      Nearly erased my carbon footprint from the planet by not driving a car for a full year.  Not recommended for the faint of heart.  

6. Brussel sprouts...friend or foe?
      Friend; I have few foes when it comes to food.

7. Who would you nominate for man/woman of the year? 
  Elizabeth Edwards, hands down

8. Insert your own random thought here.
     Is there any good way to re-purpose Christmas cookies?

Monday, December 20, 2010


It is our first Christmas in Munich and we decided to host a Christmas Open House for all of our new friends and colleagues.  We sent out about 30 invitations and figured that would be about 60 people, if everyone was able to attend.  To our great joy, nearly everyone was able to make it.  Not knowing German traditions during Christmas time, we probably made a few faux pas along the way, but if we did, our German guests were very understanding and kind by not drawing it to our attention.  In fact, they were thrilled to be invited to an American household and to learn about our traditions.

Hubby made out his list of invitees and I made out mine.  It was great to meet the people he has spoken about, but I have not yet been able to meet.  Now, I have a face to put with a name and in the process, I have made many new friends as well.  Likewise, my husband had not had the opportunity to meet any of my friends and he was finally able to make their acquaintance. 

We were both very pleased to bring everyone together in our apartment for an Open House; a very typical American custom that needed some "translation" for the Germans amongst us.  I guess the idea of coming and leaving at will is not something they are accustomed to doing.  It hardly mattered as everyone enjoyed themselves and stayed for the duration which made for a wonderful party.

Both Americans and Germans like food and we did our best to please both palates.  The standard veggie tray was recognizable by the Germans and they commented on it being a standard "American" party dish.  Who knew?

  Sliced sausages and mustards were meant for the Germans, but enjoyed by everyone. 

Christmas cookies are an international favorite that hardly needs translating in either country. 

Everyone enjoyed toasting to a "Merry Christmas" and starting the holiday celebrations. We were thrilled that so many were able to join us in the merriment and vowed to make this an annual tradition.

We have just decided to live in Germany permanently and we look forward to increasing our guest list to include all of the wonderful people we have yet to meet.  This party was so successful that we both agreed that we need to entertain these lovely people on many more occasions in the future.  

One of my friends came up to me and said that he had taken Salsa lessons and knew one of the gals my husband knew from that class.  Munich is a large city of at least one million people so the chances that two people at our party had both taken the same salsa class was rather remarkable to us and made for a great ice breaker.

 Some of the guests who were lucky enough to find a seat!

Have a blessed holiday and may your life always be filled with good friends and laughter!

Friday, December 17, 2010


William Wallace, a commoner, unites the 13th Century Scots in their battle to overthrow English rule

OK, not everything in Scotland was about surfing.  Men in kilts are always a crowd pleaser and when they resemble Mel Gibson--well, there's sure to be a curious few flocking to get a better look.  I'm a sucker for a man with face paint, I must say.  It must be a primordial urge dating back to cave man days, or then it could be those hunky NFL fans who sport every possible kind of facial decoration.

Braveheart, William Wallace, is immortalized with a statue outside of this castle, better known as Edinburgh Palace.  Set high on a hill overlooking the city it does have a omnipresence about it to this day.  Surrounded by ancient walls and heavy gates, it is a fortress that has lasted for centuries.

 Statue of the real "Braveheart"

"The Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence in Scotland of Her Majesty The Queen, stands at the end of Edinburgh's Royal Mile against the spectacular backdrop of Arthur's Seat. This fine baroque palace is closely associated with Scotland's rich history.

The Palace is perhaps best known as the home of Mary, Queen of Scots, and as the setting for many of the dramatic episodes in her turbulent reign. Mary was married at Holyroodhouse and witnessed the brutal killing of her secretary Rizzio by her jealous second husband, Lord Darnley, in her private apartments. The Palace briefly served as the headquarters of Bonnie Prince Charlie during the 1745 uprising.

Today the State Apartments are used regularly by The Queen and other members of the Royal Family for State ceremonies and official entertaining."*

 Here is a view from the inside of the Palace looking out into the city.

Another thing Scotland is known for is scones, clotted cream and jam.  Hubby and I took a break from castles and warriors and joined this kind lady in her tea shop for a scone and a spot of tea.


And then there was shopping to do.  Who doesn't love cashmere?

But there was only one reason to go to the U.K. this past weekend and that was to surprise my huband (an early Christmas gift) with a concert at Glasgow's S.E.C.C. Convention Hall.  It was sold out and it just happened to be one of my husband's favorite bands in the early 90's in Australia.  It was Simply Red and billed as their "Final Tour."  (But word has it that they will be touring with Eric Clapton in 2011.)  Macy Gray was the pre concert performer.  All I can say is that for two and a half hours, fans were on their feet and a venue that seats 10,000+ was filled to the max.  It was fun and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  So much so that we were shocked it had been two and a half hours.  Time flys...

(Excuse the quality of my i-phone photos, please. I think you get the general idea--it was packed.  But check out the general age of the fans.  We sure were in our element!)

This is an "early" Mike Hucknell singing "Holding Back the Tears"


Thursday, December 16, 2010


Achhh, it was bloody cold on the East coast of Scotland this past weekend.

The sea was churning and the wind was blowing a gale; nary a human in sight.

Except for these guys and those like them already in the frigid waves.

My husband, the lifelong sufer Aussie dude, was gobsmacked!!

These Scots are a hardy bunch! 

Aussie's be damned!  "We'll show you what REAL surfin's all about!"

They are out there, trust me.

Take a closer look... "The ejits!" 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


It's Hodgepodge Wednesday again and time to team up with Joyce at From This Side of the Pond.
Take a look at her blog and join in the fun.  You can click on the link above and follow her instructions for participating. It only takes a moment and she is always asking intriguing and topical questions.  I look forward to seeing you there!

 1. What does it mean to have the 'holiday spirit'?
     Answer: Opening my wallet and giving till it hurts?  Bringing out the eggnog and putting the blindfolders on?   For me, it is being able to contemplate what Christ's birth has meant for us on earth.  God's grace is the true spirit of Christmas and it is good to be reminded that without it we would all be living without hope.  

2. What sits atop your tree (s)? Why?
     Answer:   A silver ornament that somewhat resembles a star.  It was a last minute purchase this year and nearly forgotten when I suddenly realized that all of my Christmas decorations were left back in the states. It has no meaning, but I'm glad I remembered to get it.  The tree would look rather bare without it :-D.

3. When was the last time you gave yourself a pat on the back?
    Answer:  Just yesterday after returning from Edinburgh, Scotland with my husband.  I was able to pull off an entire surprise as an early Christmas gift for him.  I booked flights, the hotel, a car, tickets to a concert in Glasgow, and two days with special friends at their home in Ayton, by the sea.  His bags were packed and he had no idea where he was going or why.  He was ecstatic and thanked me copiously for planning this getaway trip for him.  I patted myself on the back for being able to pull it all off without a hitch.  It was a great success!

4. Which of your senses is most sensitive this time of year?
    Answer:  Probably sight since there is so much to see, but my sense of smell is always predominate.  I'm loving the pungent and spicy scents of the boughs of evergreen and the tree at the moment.  I've enjoyed the sweet, heady smell of a home made Blackberry Gin, a crackling fire in the fireplace, the crisp fresh air from the Alps after a newly fallen snow, and the aroma of buttery scotch shortbread baking in the oven.   I will miss them all when Christmas is over.  

5. What do you have too much of in your kitchen?
    Answer:  Breadcrumbs.  German's slice their own bread and I'm always wiping up breadcrumbs from the cutting board.  I believe they breed and multiply at night while we're asleep.  The counter top is their playground and no amount of wiping will eliminate them all. I know.  I've tried!

6. What do you do for meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? Big meal? Breakfast tradition? Open the cookie tins and have at it? 
    Answer:  We like wine & canapes on Christmas Eve if we are home for the holidays.  A warm baked brie, Italian breadsticks, some Greek and Spanish olives, and lovely goat cheese in figs wrapped in proscuitto will do.  Generally speaking, we are normally traveling to see family so we don't often have this luxury.  

This year will we are having our first Christmas in Germany and we are planning to get together on Christmas Day.   Since our guests will be expats, like ourselves, we will most likely have a traditional sit down meal. At the moment, I'm leaning towards a juicy ham, scalloped potatoes, and a vegetable with lots of amazing wine.

7. What is the best thing about winter? 
     Answer:  I can store food on my balcony and save precious refrigerator space (German refrigerators are the size of the ones in most college dorms).  Oh, and we live in a penthouse on the top floor so all of the heat from the residents below us helps to lower our electric bill.

Other than that, the Alps nearby are mighty gorgeous in winter, but I still need to learn to ski!

8. Insert your own random thought here.
     Answer: I plan to start all of my Christmas shopping on Amazon today.  Say a little prayer for me to finish today too!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


There is a standing feud between my husband and myself as to what constitutes coincidence, happenstance, or something so unlikely that it must be divine intervention. 

                          Liu river, Guilin, China (same scene as seen on the 20 Remimbi)

Once, while living in Shanghai, China, we took a trip to Guilin, China (see photo above). There were about 5 couples with us on our trip.  Part of the trip consists of a boat ride down the Liu river which is in a very obscure part of China.  When I say boat, think of a small wooden raft with a canopy.  The boats probably only seat 10 people.  Seated on our raft-like vessel was an older woman.  She was on the opposite side of the boat and was seated by herself.  My husband, being the kind gentleman he is, decided to go over and speak with her so she wouldn't feel alone.  I nodded and said, "Sure, go ahead.  That is a nice thing to do." 

 After a good 15 minutes, I began to wonder what the two of them had in common to talk about for so long, so I ventured over to join in the conversation.  

At this point, my husband looked at me with incredulity.  I immediately asked him what was the matter?

He replied with a look of near disbelief on his face, "You just won't believe what I am about to tell you.  This lady here, that I have been talking to, is the mother-in-law of a childhood friend of mine from Sydney, Australia."  

We were stunned.  Here we were in a largely remote part of China, on rafts, floating down the Liu river and my husband meets someone who is directly related to a friend of his from childhood.  Not just any friend, either.  His friend was the son of the, then, Prime Minister of Australia.  (How they became friends is fodder for another blog post.  Good story, I promise!)

What my husband and I couldn't get over were the odds of this encounter?  What were the chances of meeting anyone he or I would know in such a location?  We put it down to coincidence--a once in a lifetime coincidence.

NOT TRUE!  I am here to report that I have just had another, once-in-a-lifetime experience!

As those of you who read my blog know, I participate in Joyce's "Wednesday Hodgepodge" every Wednesday on my blog.  I came across Joyce's blog about six months ago when I was doing some blog hopping one day.  I don't recall whether she commented on a blog I follow or whether I found her while searching for expat  blogs, but I found her and instantly knew that we were kindred spirits.  We both had an empty nest, had spent time following our husbands abroad for their work, loved to blog, were believers, and had repatriated back to the U.S. (she more recently than I have). 

 I loved her style of writing and enjoyed reading about her first year back in the U.S. after having lived in the UK.

I am second from left, P.W. to my right, and our mutual acquaintance,  A.M. on the far right.)

Last week, I had the honor of attending the International Women's Club of Munich Christmas Tea, sponsored by members from the UK.  I met a friend, PW  who was also attendingm on the S-8 train that morning around 10:30 am. PW introduced me to her friend, A.M.who was accompanying her.  On our way to the Christmas Tea we began chatting about our December plans when A.M. shared with us that she had just hosted a group of women from various cities in her home this week. They had all once been friends during their expat years in the U.K.  She took the girls to visit the Chriskindle markets in Strasbourg, Nuremberg, and Munich while they were here visiting in Germany.

Now, I knew it was a stretch, and I almost didn't ask, but I said, "One of those ladies didn't happen to be named Joyce, by any chance, did she?"

"Why, yes!" she giggled.  "How do you know Joyce?" she asked.

I couldn't believe it.  Again, what are the chances? 

Joyce now lives in the U.S.  I only know her from reading her blog.  Can anyone tell me the odds of this coincidnce?  It must be astronomical!!
Call it what you may, but I refuse to believe it is mere coincidence.

I prefer to believe it is divine intervention.  I just haven't figured out why.  

So, Joyce, if you are reading this, I have already contacted you via email to tell you the story you won't believe.  I am glad to have made A.M.'s acquaintance and look forward to getting to know her better.  Hopefully, I will see her at many more IWCM functions.  

I heard your connection to Heathrow on the most inclement of days put you behind schedule, but one day, should you ever return to Munich,  I hope I can meet you properly!  

Meanwhile, I will continue to believe that God, not happenstance, intervened today and will feel blessed.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


I am revisiting (with new photos) the highlight of 2010 for us.  Our trip to Paris given to us by my husband's company.  A lot has happened in 2010, but this trip was the most memorable for us.  This post highlights the second day of a four day trip.  I think you will understand why it is so special in our memory.

The mansion pictred above,  the Museé Jacquemart-Andre´,  in Paris, France, was the venue for a cocktail reception and dinner.  The photo was taken before the guests would arrive. 

The Musèe Jacquemart-Andrè was once a private home of Èdouard Andrè (1833-1894) and wife Nèlie Jacquemart to display the art they collected during their lives.Èdouard spent most of his fortune buying works of art and then exhibited them in his new mansion built in 1869.  He married a well-known society painter, Nèlie.  Every year the couple traveled to Italy collecting large amounts of art for their collection, now one of the finest collections of Italian art in France.  The mansion, with it's spectacular art collection, was bequeathed to the Institut de Franc.

Once our driver stopped outside, he let us out and we had to enter this arcade to gain access to the mansion.  You can see the grounds of the mansion at the other end of the arcade.

We have just exited the arcade and are walking up onto the courtyard where the cocktail reception will be held.  Notice the small candles lighting the walkway on either side.  What a romantic touch.

Candle votives lit the walkway and uplights were scattered throughout the courtyard drawing attention to the plants, trees, and sculptures.  A violinist was playing for us while waiters mingled about with trays of champagne and delicious canopies.

Our evening was just beginning, but for us it was the beginning of a personal fairytale.  We were in the most romantic city in the world and we were being treated to an evening of splendor way beyond our expectations.  It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience for both of us.

 Calla lillys in glass vases adorned each table and the champagne just kept flowing (notice the smile on my hsband's face?)

Once inside the mansion, we were given a private tour and allowed to view priceless works of art that are housed permanently here.  From this room onward, no photos were allowed, but words cannot express the beauty of this stunning collection of art that we were privy to view.

 Dinner was beginning and the waiters were standing at attention waiting for the guests to fill the tables.

 During dinner, we were treated to the hauntingly beautiful voice of this Parisian singer, and Edith Piaf sound alike.

 She delighted us and was accompanied by a pianist, accordionist and a bassist.

After dinner, a desert bar was in the adjoining room.  Along with many deserts there were assorted fruits and French cheese.

As the evening drew to a close, everyone was extraordinarily full and longed to return to the hotel.

Our car was waiting for us and our fairytale evening was about to end.  Bon soir, Musee´Jacquemont-Andre´. Nous reviendrons.