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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Thursday, March 31, 2011


Well, thanks to a very astute reader (Thanks, Harvey), I am making a correction on yesterday's blog post where I said that we pay $5.70 a gallon for gas here.  That should have been €5.70, which works out to be around $7.90 a gallon (€1.40 per litre).  

So, if that original figure was sticker shock, now I am in a coma!  

But I really shouldn't be because gas (petrol) around the world can be found for higher prices than in the U.S.  It's just that Americans are not used to having to pay such huge prices.  


Here, in Germany fuel taxes are €0.4704 per litre for ultra-low sulphur Diesel and €0.6545 per litre for conventional unleaded petrol, plus Value Added Tax (19%) on the fuel itself and the Fuel Tax. That adds up to prices of €1.03 per litre for ultra-low sulphur Diesel and €1.22 per litre (approximately USD 6.28 per US gallon) for unleaded petrol ( Wiki, March 2009).

So, folks, as we dig deeper and deeper into our pockets, I guess the moral to this story is that it can always get worse.  

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Since we just bought a car here in Munich, which uses diesel, I am now in great sympathy with my U.S. compatriots who are suffering effects of the cost of fuel.  For the last two years, we have used public transportation, bikes, and our feet to get around in Munich.  Having a car for just over three weeks, we are having second thoughts about using it in the city.

 It may only be used for trips around Europe.  Fuel is ridiculously expensive; about $5.70 a gallon here.

All kidding aside, it is hard to comprehend how families make it when they have long commutes to work.   I also wonder how college grads who are trying to find jobs for the first time make it without a salary yet.  How do people who are already suffering economically make it?  I am thinking of those families that have been unemployed or had their homes foreclosed.  How are they going to continue when costs continue to increase?

It is a choice for us to drive or use public transportation, but not every city offers alternative choices.  I see no remedy for this problem especially with the Middle East in turmoil.  It is distressing to realize that transportation, which we all take for granted, is now considered a luxury.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hodgepodge WEDNESDAY

It's Wednesday, Hodgepodge Wednesday!  To hook up, click the badge above and then give all 8 questions some thought while joining in the fun.  Hope to see you at Hodgepodge Wednesday.

1. April rolls in at the end of this week and in celebration of that infamous date (April 1st) answer this question-What is something foolish you've done?

You didn't necessarily say for "April Fools Day," because I can be foolish just about any day.  I am known for making comments that are very foolish. Once, in a traffic jam, I said to my son, who was driving, "Look on the bright side!  At least we're not alone."  Upon which he replied, "If we were alone, we wouldn't be sitting here going nowhere."  Yeah, I'm famous for it.  

He also told me about a plane crash over Siberia one day and I exclaimed, "Oh, what a terrible place to crash!"  Yeah, you guessed it.  He retorted, "Ok mom, where is a good place to crash?"

2. With April comes Easter and that classic edible treat known as Peeps...so tell me...what's your favorite way to fix/eat chicken? That wasn't what you were expecting, was it? I 'fooled' you. teehee.

Roasted Chicken.

3. What's the best museum you've ever visited? Or your favorite? Or the one you'd most like to visit?

One of my degrees happens to be a degree in Visual Arts and Art History. So, since art is one of my passions, along with travel, I have made it a point to visit some of the world's best museums in our many travels.  ( Joyce, you may regret asking this question. I could go on and on.)

 I have been fortunate enough to have seen the Louvre in Paris along with the Pompidou and Musee d'Orsay, also in Paris.  I have been wowed by the  Albertina in Vienna, and the Tate and the National Gallery in London. The MOMA, the Metropolitan and the Guggenheim in NYC have captured my heart many times.  

Since living here in Munich, the Alte Pinokotek, the Neue Pinokotek, the Moderne Pinokotek are regular haunts for me and are each exquisite in their own right. 

The Uffizi in Florence, the Borghese in Rome, the National Museum of Melbourne in Australia ( along with an Aboriginal museum outside of Sydney) are all museums that house priceless objects and paintings.  The Toledo Museum of Art, the Detroit Insitute of Art, the Chicago Institute of Art standout most in my mind in the U.S.    While in Amsterdam, the Van Gogh must not be missed and in Bali,  the village of Ubud with it's many galleries and local artists is spectacular to see .  

There are many other outstanding museums that I have made a point to visit, but, if I could only pick one museum as a favorite, it would be the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. In my opinion, every American should go, at least once in their lifetime, if it is within their means.  I promise, you will not be disappointed.

4. You know what they say about April showers...what's your preference-a shower or a bath?


5. "Absence makes the heart grow fonder"...fact or fiction? Why?

This was my mother's favorite saying when she tried to limit my dating experiences in high school.  As a result, I grew to dislike this quote very much.  

For most of the early years of our marriage, my husband had a global position for business and all I can say is that I missed him very much each and every time he left.  His trips were two to three weeks in length, *sigh*.

Having said this, his return was a new beginning each time.  We celebrated and rekindled our romance with every reunion.  So, I guess mom was right after all!

6. What's your favorite product made/grown in your home state/province?

My hometown, Toledo, Ohio, is mostly known for Jeeps and Toledo Scales.  Tony Packo Hungarian Hot Dogs and Pickles are favorite food products, but they are not my favorite.  I stand by a local product called Garlic Expressions, a garlic infused oil used for salads, etc.,  which I hear is now being distributed nationally.

Here in Munich, you would have to go long and far to beat a Mercedes, a Helles (Beer) or a Brezen (German Pretzel).

7. What is going on in the world today that affects you the most?

The push to eliminate unions--frightening, it is.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

If I were Moammar Gadahfi, I would disappear fast.  His days are truly numbered.

Friday, March 25, 2011


A friend of mine asked me to go on a photo walk with him along the Isar River here in Munich and I'm so glad I did.  Spring is just beginning here in Germany.  I took the above photo of forsythia that is only just now bursting with blossoms.

Delicate crocus were pushing their way up through the earth in an effort to feel the warmth of the sun.

It was a gorgeous, bright day with temperatures around 20 C (70 F) and all of Munich was outdoors taking full advantage of bright blue skies and warm breezes.

Spring is here and nature is awakening after a long sleep.  

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


It seems like just yesterday that I completed this mime and it is already Wednesday again! Where does the time go?  This week just disappeared.  Well here we go again.  Wednesday's Hodgepodge with Joyce.  It's her Springtime edition! And we all are excited for that to happen!

1. Sunday was the first day of spring. So they say. Ahem.
What is your favorite outdoor springtime activity?
Without question golf!  Can't wait to get the clubs out.

2. Who would you want to come into your kitchen to cook dinner for you?
My daughter-in-law who is Jordanian and who is the best cook I know.  I would love to taste her dishes right now.  But more importantly, I would love her company.  She and I always have so much fun together.  I miss her smile.  She is truly my daughter from another mother, *wink, wink.*

3. When did you last fly a kite?
Despite many requests from others to do so, it has been at least ten years ago.  

4. What topic puts you to sleep faster than anything?
Quantum physics and string theory which my husband finds fascinating.  Zzzzzzzzzzz....

5. Which flowers do you associate with specific people, places, or events?
My ex-mother-in-law Lucille, who is now deceased, always had violets on her kitchen window sill and I always think of her when I see them.  From what I understand, they are very hard to grow.

6. What significant historical events took place during your elementary school days?
Desert Storm........only kidding.  I date way back to JFK's assassination! 

7. Do you swear? Do you pseudo-swear? (You know crap, shoot, friggin'?)
Having been a teacher of high school students for over 27 years, I have enormous control over my swearing.  But I would be lying if I said I never swore.  It just takes a lot to get me started.   But when I do, look out!

8. Insert your own random thought here
If you have been reading my posts, you know that Joyce just happens to be a friend of a gal I have met here in Munich.  Let's just say it is quite a coincidence.  Today, another friend of mine who I play bridge with every Monday, emailed me to say that she had visited my Flickr site on the internet.  She said it dawned on her as she was looking at the photos that she had seen my photos of Germany before, way before.  In fact, over two years ago before she moved to Germany she Googled Munich and my photos came up.  What are the chances of all of the people in Munich, we would meet and become friends?  I love coincidence, especially when it brings good people and friends my way!

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Everyone knows about Munich's Oktoberfest, but the one fest that people know little about is the Starkbierfest, or "Strong Beer Fest," or 8.1 alcohol beer.  Ompahh music, dancing on the benches, singing along to the music in the beer halls and eating Schweinehaxe, Pig Knuckles, while drinking a Maß (one liter) is the drill.

Supposedly a monk, Salvatore, in Munich, during lent, was observing the fast by refraining from food.  However, he reckoned that drinking was not the same as eating and consequently developed a strong beer by brewing it with less water.  That was the birth of Salvatore Starkbier.

Today, during the days of Lent, all of Bavaria's breweries create their version of Starkbier.  Perhaps the most famous brewery is the Kloster Andechs located in a small monastery outside of Munich.  Locals call it "the holy mountain" where the monks "Dopplebock Beer" is produced.  The monks maintain a contained life and have their own gardens, fields, butchery, dairy, distillery, and brewery.

Our first Starkbier excursion wasn't to Koster Andechs, that will come next weekend.  Instead, we chose the popular Rusticana Steak and Rib joint here in Munich.  That is one pile of tender ribs that were set in front of us.  They were supposed to feed five, but we had nearly a dozen left when we all became too full.  The Rusticana allows two hour seating and believe me when I say that one needs to reserve a table at least two weeks in advance when planning to eat here.

The guys were ready to dig in!  A full tummy and a couple of Maß later, we were ready to head out to Juleps for a pitcher of margaritas.  It was a fun night and Starkbier season has just begun! We have a full 3 weeks to enjoy strong beer!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Since St. Patrick's day is so near, Joyce has presented us with some ideas to ponder as we respond to her weekly Wednesday's Hodgepodge.  Everything from the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow to our favorite shade of green is discussed.  She also reminds us of National Pi Day (I never knew there was such a day) and Albert Einstein's birthday this month.  If you haven't joined in the fun, now is the time to do so.  Just click on the badge above and let your imagination roam free!

Here it goes!
1. What would you do if you found a pot of gold? Let's pretend this pot of gold is worth exactly $1500 (which would actually be more like a cup of gold at current values). Anyway, let's also pretend you have to spend it as opposed to making a donation someplace. Now tell me what you would do with that 
pot of gold?

Book the first flight back to Ohio to kiss my sweet grandbabies.  $1500 should cover it.

2. Do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day in any way, shape, or form?

Nope!  Although this year we may end up at Killian's pub  here in Munich on the 17th.

3. Have you been bitten by the Spring Cleaning bug? What spring cleaning job most needs doing at your house? What spring cleaning job are you most dreading?

There's a cleaning bug??  Really?? 

 I think I will wait until the movers come to take our things to our new place in Munich and then I'll give it a good going over once everything is gone. 

After winter, the windows need cleaning the most.

4. lime-shamrock-sage-forest...your favorite shade of green?

I love all shades of green.  Green happens to be my favorite color.  It is impossible for me to prefer one over another.

5. Thomas Jefferson once said, "I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it." So...do you believe in luck or do you believe we make our own luck?

For most of us, our luck is a direct result of our hard work.  Others may not see it that way, but few people are able to go through life content with putting their future at the mercy of happenstance.  There is enough hard evidence of the fortunes  of hard work to convince me that luck is made, not wished upon.

It disturbs me when people say, "You're so lucky," about this or that regarding our lives.  Luck has very little to do with it.  Have they forgotten all of the hard work that went into making our life as comfortable as it is?  Or, do they only see the product of all of that hard work and just assume we "lucked out?"  I find that phrase very irritating.  Not only hard work, but good decisions and a willingness to sacrifice also attribute to one's apparent "luck."

6. Monday (3/14) was Pi Day. Get it? Pi =3.14. Those math types are so clever aren't they? Since I'm not one of them tell me what's your favorite piE (the edible kind).

                               Pi = 3.14159265

Lemon meringue; home made, of course!

7. That same date (3/14) happens to be the birthdate of the late physicist Albert Einstein. I bet he knew the value of Pi. So...what do you think is more important and or valuable in life... intelligence or common sense?

Good question, Joyce!  One without the other is of very little good, is it?  I have heard that Einstein, although extremely intelligent, lacked some very basic common sense.  Yet, common sense can only go so far.  So, rather than choose one over the other, I would say a person would prefer to have a little of both to be a well-balanced individual.  

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Although I have been taking photos for years, I have just recently enrolled in  photography courses here in München.  The amazing thing is that have finally found courses in Germany in English!  I feel like I have won the lottery! 

The first course begins in two hours and I'm really looking forward to learning all I can about my camera and how to compose good photographs.  It will be fun to see what more I can do with the camera.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Heading out today to shop for new furniture!  Hurrah!  But I don't think this piece will quite fit with the style we have in mind.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Once again it is time to link up with Joyce for this week's Wednesday's Hodgepodge.  Click the badge above and join us!

1. The season of Lent begins on March 9th this year...do you participate and if so, in what way?

If having a krapfen (doughnut) during Fastenzeit (Lent) counts, then I'm guilty.  But I wouldn't go so far as inject my own filling with a syringe firmly planted on top.  You never know.  It could be a used one!

2. Traditionally pancakes are eaten on the day known as Shrove Tuesday which is the last day before Lent (March 8th this year). So....butter and syrup? Blueberry? Chocolate chip? ewww, no thanks!! What's your pleasure when it comes to eating pancakes?

Here in Munich a favorite pancake is served for desert.  It is called Kaiserschmarrn.  It really comes from Austria but has been adopted by Germans and is very popular.   The word "Kaiser" meaning Emperor and "Schmarrn" meaning mishmash = Emperor`s mishmash. It is such a quick and easy dessert recipe, enjoyable to make.  Basically it is cut up pieces of pancake sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with a fruit compote of apples, strawberries, blueberries, etc.  I've included the recipe here:

200g flour
50g sugar
6 eggs
250ml milk
pinch of salt
2 tbsps raisins

icing or powdered sugar
apple compote or puree of any fruit you wish

Separate the egg yolks from the whites.
Mix the egg yolks, sugar, flour and milk in a bowl.
Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and beat with an electric whisk or hand whisk until stiff.
Fold the stiff egg whites carefully into the flour and egg mixture.

Melt some butter in a large frying pan. Pour in the dough and then sprinkle with raisins. Cook on one side for a couple of minutes, turn over, cook and then chop into rough pieces with a fork.
Do not overcook otherwise the pancakes will dry out.Sprinkle with icing or powdered sugar and serve with your favourite compote.

Or, if you shop in International food stores you might find this:

3. Spring is coming. (It is coming, right?) What's your favorite springtime flower and do you suffer from seasonal allergies? Two questions I know, but they're lightweights.

Hands down-- the lovely, fragrant hyacinth.  Pink or purple preferably.

4. "Our opinion of people depends less upon what we see in them than upon what they make us see in ourselves." Author unknown. Agree or Disagree? Why?

This is a quote I've forgotten about, but I find it to be very true.  I think we all choose to be close to people who bring out the best in us.  However, you can also look at this quote and come to the realization that if you met a brutally honest person, you probably wouldn't befriend him or her.  But I honestly believe that the qualities that we find distasteful in ourselves and others become outwardly apparent to us when we are faced with them in others; thereby reminding us of our own character flaws.  

This quote could be the basis of a great novel, don't you think?

5. Since it's "March" and also the season of Mardi Gras....have you ever been in a parade? What's the best parade you've seen?

Yes.  I was a member of my University Dance Team and did appear in parades "back in the day" as they say.

One of the best parades I have ever attended was a Kite Festival parade in Bali.  The participants were from Denpasar, Bali and were having the parade to honor the Hindu gods to bless their crops.  It was outlandish, exotic, and the kites were phenomenal.  It is one of many memorable moments we had in Bali. 

UPDATE!  I went out this afternoon and lo and behold, there was a PARADE in town.  A Faschingzeit Parade with drummers, music, and cars and trucks loaded with costumed people throwing candy to the little ones.  Here are some photos.

 Every one loves a parade!

6. You would jump up and down and shout for joy right now if someone told you___________?

I had three wishes!

7. How clean is your car on the outside? Inside? Is there junk in your trunk?

Good thing you asked this question this week, because up until Saturday, we didn't own a car here in Germany (we have one back in the U.S. being stored in our garage.) Since it is only been in our possession for 4 days, it is spanking brand new and clean as a pin--for now.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

We are moving house in a month!  In mid-April we plan to move farther south to a town called Forstenried, Germany.  It is a suburb of Munich and our new digs are located one street away from the Forstenried forest.   The forest is a recreational area consisting of 43 kilometers of hiking and biking trails, paved in part, and extensive riding trails. There are opportunities for sports like running, cycling , horseback riding, inline skating and winter skiing. There is also a playground, a nature trail and a fitness trail. The Rad-Ring Munich, a bike path around the city, crosses the east-west direction. We are looking forward to an active spring and summer this year--that is if we can avoid the numerous biergartens scattered throughout the forest!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Each Monday I travel to the Marienplatz in Munich to play bridge.  Yesterday I was greeted with this effigy hanging above the the crowds of people celebrating Fasching.  I have no clue who it is supposed to be; perhaps a court jester or joker?  But it was Shrove Tuesday or "Fat Tuesday! or "Pancake Tuesday," depending on where you are in the world and here in Munich it is a reason to celebrate.

Most people think Oktoberfest is the biggest celebration in Munich but actually Fasching which begins in November is considered to be bigger.

People dress up in ridiculous costumes, attend parties, and in this case gather at the city square and join the crowds eating candy apples, playing carnival games, dancing to pop music, and drinking lots of beer.

The costumes are everywhere.  This fellow was in line at the supermarket when I snapped his photo. I noticed he had a lorikeet on his shoulder and a koala on his hat.  His mom was Australian he said.  I guess it is as good a reason to wear Australian animals on your Fasching costume as anything else.  

Friday, March 4, 2011


Thought I would revisit a  personal goal -- eating heathy.  Nutritionally speaking, I'm trying to cut out all white foods, use only good fats in moderation, and eat minimal foods containing sugar.  It's a way to make better food choices.

Additionally, I need to pay closer attention to eating more antioxidants.

Eating antioxidants, however, presents it's own challenge.  Many of the most frequently found pesticide residues are known immunotoxins, neurotoxins, or endocrine disruptors which can have potentially damaging consequences to you or your families health and cognitive development.  In Europe, the foods that frequently exceed the Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) are mandarins, oranges, grapes pears, appless, strawberries, beans, spinach, aubergines, and peppers.  

For those of you reading this from the U.S., here are the "dirty dozen" or most contaminated products:  peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries,pears, grapes, spinach, lettuce, potatoes, and carrots.

In all reality, our vegetables, fruits, meats, and dairy should be organic, thus eliminating all of these harmful substances.  It is more expensive and it doesn't have the same shelf life, but at least you don't have to worry about your children
developing ADHD, proven to be connected to pesticides by a study on 1,139 children from the general U.S. population and measured by the pesticide levels in their urine by the University of Montreal and published in the May 2010 edition of Pediatrics.

Another thing you can do to reduce your level of pesticides is to wash all produce in a vinegar: water (1:3) solution  (keep a spray bottle by the sink) and scrub it with a vegetable brush.  Peeling fruits and vegetables will also reduce some of the contaminants.

 In addition to organic produce,try to eat organic meat, fish, eggs, milk and cheese.

How do you eat to stay healthy?  Any good trips to share?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


It is Wednesday again and time for another Hodgepodge.....

1. March 2nd is Dr. Seuss's birthday so I'm wondering...do you like green eggs and ham? Okay-how about this...how do you like your eggs? Or don't you?

I love my eggs basted.  I went to a lecture on nutrition and learned that it is a myth that eggs contain too much cholesterol.  All of these years I have been avoiding them.  They are nature's perfect protein.  Bring 'em on!

2. Is March coming in like a lion or something less ferocious where you live?

Nuff said.

3. Do you work better or worse under pressure.

Just thinking about deadlines give me the hebbie jebbies.  I have worked for 30 years with nothing but deadlines, schedules, and pressure.  Now that I am retired, I make my own schedules according to my time clock and I avoid activities that remind me of work.  I figure I've earned this and I'm going to enjoy it.

4. March Madness-are you a fan? It's college basketball in case you're wondering. And if you're outside the USA tell us, is there any sort of 'madness' taking place during March in your part of the world?

                                           Official logo of FC Bayern München

F C Fussball, or better known in the U.S. as soccer.  We like the World Cup Soccer games, but living in Munich, we are now Bayern München fans.

5. Under what circumstances do you do your best thinking?

Invariably, it will be when I am trying to fall asleep or mid-sleep.  I have lost count of the number of times I have jumped out of bed to jot down an idea I've had during the wee hours of the morning.

6. What item of clothing from your wardrobe do you wear most often?

7. Do you use sarcasm?

I save it for very special people.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Best wishes for a Baba Marta!

This photo was sent to me by a friend of mine from Sophia, Bulgaria.  She and I had our photos taken in Sophia under a tree filled with "Martenici.  Bulgarians put these home made decorations of white and red yarn on budding or blooming trees the first time an individual sees a stork, a swallow or a budding tree.  The holiday is called Baba Marta.. "Baba" (баба) is the Bulgarian word for "grandmother" and Mart (март) is the Bulgarian word for the month of March. Baba Marta is a Bulgarian tradition related to welcoming the upcoming spring. The month of March, according to Bulgarian folklore, marks the beginning of springtime. Therefore, the first day of March is a traditional holiday associated with sending off winter and welcoming spring.