Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Life of Pi and Falling from the Sky

Thanksgiving was fantastic! My Dad came down from San Antonio and we ate (a lot), talked (a lot), saw movies (a lot), and just generally enjoyed ourselves (a lot). 

On Friday, we saw Life of Pi at the theater. It was AMAZING! I highly recommend this film. It has everything - adventure, family, spirituality  suffering, redemption, courage, joy...the list goes on and on and on. Both my Dad and I were incredibly impressed with this movie. We discussed it for two days after seeing it. 

On Saturday, we saw Skyfall, the new James Bond movie. My Dad is a huge Bond fan. I am neutral where Bond is concerned, but I enjoyed this movie. It's long at 2 hours and 23 minutes, but you honestly don't even realize it. The film moves quickly and the story is engaging and entertaining.

Dad was here from Wednesday evening until Sunday. In addition to watching movies in the theater  we also watched Charlie Chan movies at home. We both love the old mystery films. Dad also took Peanut outside on her leash several times. She loves going outside and gets mad at me because I won't take her out 150 million times an evening. She was so thrilled to hang out with Dad because he was happy to take her out as often as she wanted to go. 

After Dad left on Sunday, I prepared for the week ahead by doing laundry and cleaning up a bit. I enjoyed Thanksgiving with Dad and I look forward to the coming holidays!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Eve

Wishing all those in the United States a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING! My father should be here any minute from San Antonio (about four hours from where I live). We will be celebrating tomorrow at a local buffet restaurant with a friend of mine. It will be a good time of food, chatting, and more food. And also some food. And some pie.

In the Thanksgiving spirit, here are a couple of things I've found humorous over the past week or two. Enjoy your holiday!

Thanksgiving at Mitt Romney's house.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

GERMANY - 10 Things

My fourth and last week in Germany was nothing special. I went to the bakery of course and lamented the fact that my time there was getting shorter and shorter. I arrived back in Houston on Saturday, November 10th and I'm already planning my next adventure in Germany! 

In the meantime, here are 10 THINGS I LEARNED ABOUT GERMANY:

1. They do not bag groceries. You either bring your own bag to the store, you can buy bags there for .10 Euros, or you just take your stuff to your car and toss it in.

2. Recycling is serious business. You separate your items into food products, plastics/aluminum, and cardboard/paper. Each type of item has its own bin. And don't put the wrong thing in the wrong bin!!

3. It costs .75 Euros to send a postcard to the US.

4. A lot of people speak English. They learn it in school early there. That doesn't mean everyone speaks English, but you will find English speakers in surprising places.

5. Star Trek is on TV a lot. It is dubbed in German.

6. Children go to school until about 12:30 or 1. It is not an all-day thing followed by sports/clubs as it is in the U.S.

7. Children are divided into groups in school based on academic performance. If they do well in school, they can go to "gymnasium," which is the college preparatory version of high school. Others go to vocational schools and are trained for jobs.

8. You must pay 53 euros every three months to have access to TV and radio.

9. You seat yourself in most restaurants. A hostess seating you is not the norm.

10. When you rent an apartment, you must furnish the place - literally. You buy your own refrigerator, oven, electrical fixtures, etc. Getting your first apartment is an expensive proposition.

Monday, November 5, 2012

GERMANY - Third Weekend (Dachau).

The third week of my time in Germany is not worth a whole blog. It was basically my usual treks to the bakery and what not. But, my third weekend is definitely worth noting.

Our rental car - Chevy Captiva
Friday: Headed out on the bus to meet my boyfriend. We took the bus and then the train to Michelstadt where we picked up our rental car. Most people in Germany drive manual cars. I do not know how to drive a manual so we ended up with a Chevy Captiva, which is a much larger car than I am used to. I am now and have always been a compact car girl. I drive a Kia Rio back home in Houston so that ought to tell you something. In any case, the Captiva is what they had available in an automatic so we went with it. Before getting on the road, we parked the car and walked through town looking for some lunch. We finally ended up at a donër stand and had some delicious food after which we headed out to our destination.

Hotel Palazzio
Where were we going you ask? Dachau. More specifically, we were headed to Dachau Concentration Camp. I am a big fan of history and I have a particular fascination with the Holocaust. I have always wanted to see the concentration camp and now that I am in Germany and so close (relatively speaking), I decided to visit it. It is about a four-hour drive from where I am staying so my boyfriend and I decided to make a weekend out of it. I drove and it was a nice drive through some beautiful countryside before we hit the highway. I did drive some parts of the autobahn, which has no speed limit, but it was raining so I didn't go very fast. We made it to Dachau around 8:30 and checked into the Hotel Palazzio. It was a cute little hotel and perfect for what we needed. We had some ice cream in the restaurant downstairs and headed to bed.

Saturday: We were up early and had breakfast in the hotel. It was a basic continental breakfast consisting of croissants, meats, and cheeses. We decided to walk to the site of the concentration camp because it was only about five minutes away on foot. We headed out into a warm, sunny day. We found the site, got a map at the information desk and set off to see the camp. 

I have no words that can adequately describe how moving this experience was. To be in the same spot where such atrocities took place, to walk the paths so many walked in agony, to see where so many lives were was a humbling experience. It put so much in perspective for me. The pain that we inflict on each other and, at the same time, the spirit and courage of those who persevered in unfathomable conditions. It gives us all hope that we too can endure whatever we encounter on our life journeys. 

The most difficult part of the camp was the gas chamber and incinerators. So many lives lost there, so much potential, so much life experience gone. The photos around the site (and those I took) are not for the faint of heart, they show the atrocities in all of their horrific glory. It is something everyone should see. Everyone should see what happened there. Only by knowing history can we prevent a repeat of this kind of horror.

Thomas and I talked about what we had seen and how moved we both were by it. We then headed back to the hotel to rest. We then headed to two grocery stores to stock up on some things. Thomas does not have a car so we took the opportunity to stock up on things that are easier to purchase when one has a vehicle. Then, we found a place to eat called the Pan Americana, which served food from both North and South America. We both had Mexican food - fajitas for me, burritos for Thomas. We both thought it was interesting that were were in Germany at a restaurant with an American motif, eating Mexican food. How worldly of us!

Tree-lined path at the Dachau Palace and Court Garden
Sunday: We had breakfast at the hotel once again before checking out and heading to the Dachau Palace and Court Garden. It was a beautiful palace and although many of the flowers are not yet in season so to speak, the paths in the garden were gorgeous. We had fun walking through them and just enjoying the fall colors and leaves. 

After visiting the Court Garden, we walked through town and then headed back to our car to get on the road back to Frankïsch-Crumbach. The drive was nice, the sky was blue and we were not in a hurry so we were able to enjoy the weather, the music on the radio, and just rolling along the highway. We stopped for an early dinner around 4 in Erbach, a beautiful old world town. It was raining a bit now and it had grown cold so it was nice to stop and have some good food in a cozy eatery. Thomas had lived in Erbach at one time and recommended a cute restaurant that served, among other things, pizza, spaghetti, schnitzel, and donërs. I had the spaghetti, he had the donër pizza and we were both very happy with the food. 

We headed back to the car while I played tourist taking photos of the town. We then stopped at the home of a friend Thomas's before heading back home, unloading our grocery purchases, and relaxing for the evening. It was a very productive weekend full of history, shopping, gardens, good food, and a nice drive through beautiful scenery. I couldn't ask for a better last weekend in Germany!