Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Taste of Frankfurt

So, last night we dined at the Zum Gemalten Haus.  It is a traditional Frankfurter Apfelwein tavern.  We dined on a variety of wursts and other parts of the pig including the following:

with a little Blood Sausage:

and even pig tongue:

which is not nearly as cute when prepared for eating:

Apologies if you have, by now, tossed your cookies.

I had never had pork tongue before, and was surprised to find that it tasted rather like corned beef.  If you ignored the feel of pig tastebuds rubbing against your own, you could almost pretend it WAS corned beef!  Much of the other food was also quite tasty.  The blood sausage did not have an altogether bad flavor, but the presentation was a bit questionable...  It just kind of oozed out of the sausage skin when pierced with a knife.  But, there was plenty of Apfelwein to drink, so I probably could have eaten a pig eyeball, and it would have gone down OK.

A word of warning to those who plan to come visit us....we will likely take you here for dinner.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ich bin ein Bummelant......

Vocabulary lesson for today: ein Bummelant is a Slacker.  It has been WAY too long since my last update....time has just gotten away from me.  Where to begin....Oh, I know.... DOUBLE RAINBOW!!

Yes, I witnessed a real double rainbow at work in Heidelberg.  I didn't cry, but I did exclaim aloud "Double Rainbow."  For those of you who have no idea why this is culturally significant (i.e., Olga.....), please view the legendary video.

So, since my last posting, I've been to Russia and back to the US.  I was in Russia for work, but I had some time to do some sightseeing.  I got to see Mummy Lenin:

And, I went to Bunker 42, a recently declassified Cold-War era bunker located under central Moscow:
Block 1, upstairs
I REALLY enjoyed Bunker 42.  It was very interesting seeing the Cold War and the Arms Race represented from a Russian/Soviet perspective. I think my Mom would have absolutely LOVED it.  While there, I helped launch a retaliatory nuclear attack on the USA.  I'm sure my family would have been proud.  The bunker was fully independent and able to launch the Soviet arsenal in the event of war.  They still had the communication and launch equipment there for you to play with.  I assume it had been disconnected from the missile silos, as there were no news reports of an attack on the US.

Then, we took a return trip to the US, but stopped to visit the Simpsons in Springfield (get it??  see the nuclear towers behind us?):

We also ran into our favorite gay couple while there:

And, for the first time in my life, I paid more than $40 for a pair of jeans.  It's Germany, a $30 pair of Levis costs like $100!    That's insane.  And, they have fancy "Euro" jeans here, so I had to bite the bullet and get some, but I got them in the US since they are SO much cheaper.  So, what are "Euro Jeans?"  Basically, picture regular American jeans, but with weird pockets and WAY to much going on on the back:

Don't worry....mine aren't that bad.  I may be living in Germany now, but I still have taste.
Speaking of Fashion, Vader got a new Snuggie, and he LOVES it:

The biggest news of my month is that I FINALLY got my car.  It only took three months....  I used to think buying a car in the US was one of the worst experiences possible, but I have an entirely new appreciation for it now.  Seriously, Germany.....three months?!  No wonder the economy is on the brink.

But, it was worth the wait.  I adore my new car, though she does not have a name yet:

While we were picking up the car, Adam made a friend.  These dudes were standing at the car place in the lobby, as some kind of promotion.  I don't quite get it.  It seems to me that they are saying you are a Caveman if you use their company....but, whatever.

So, as this is my own personal venue, I am going to take the opportunity to vent a bit and share some childhood trauma with you.  Back when I was a small child, there was a show on TV called Wonderbug.  It was one of those shows by Sid and Marty Krofft:

This was like my FAVORITE show.  Yeah, it was stupid, the car talked, and the three actors had really big hair and bad fashion, but I LOVED it.  I had a little toy car that closely resembled Wonderbug.  It was one of my favorite toys ever - I called it Wonder Buggy.

Flash forward to a few years later (not intentionally quoting Alanis Morissette), the family is participating in the neighborhood yard sale.  Being that I am now a teenager, it seemed appropriate to sell off many of my childhood toys that had been rotting in the attic.  But, as I was putting out my toys on the sale table, I came across Wonder Buggy.  I simply couldn't bear to part with it, so I left it in the box under the table, deciding it was definitely NOT for sale.  Hours later, I decided to go for a stroll up the road to see what the other neighbors had for sale.  I came back after an unsuccessful journey, and discovered that Wonder Buggy was no longer in the box!  I panicked a little (a lot....) and demanded to know what happened to him from my Father, who had been manning the table.  He happily informed me that a kid saw him in the box and liked it, so my Dad sold it to him for 50 cents.  For a moment, the world stopped.  Then, I felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest and stomped into the ground in front of me.  "You did what?!," I asked as delicately as possible.  "Well, I guess you forgot to put it out, but I got you 50 cents for it!"

That was probably some time around 1986.  I'm not over it yet.

So, you may wonder why I am bringing this up now.  Fair question.  In 2010, Nissan came out with the Juke.  As soon as I saw the car, it reminded me of Wonder Buggy, except in adult size.  I HAD to have it.  Now I do.  With this car in my possession, maybe I can begin to forgive my father for the unfortunate yard sale incident.....

OK, that's all for now.  I will aim to be a bit more prompt with my next posting. Depending on how long it takes, it might happen after Adam and I do Thanksgiving dinner for our German friends.  I'm curious to see how they react to the meal.  Will their stomachs explode?  Will they be afraid of Cranberry sauce?  What will they make of green bean casserole?  So many questions.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

And on the Seventh Day, it actually didn't rain!

I's been three weeks since my last posting.  I guess time flies when you're not paying attention...  Today is the first Sunday since we have been here that it hasn't rained!  It's something of a miracle.

Speaking of Miracles, we're hoping for some Divine intervention with Vader.  He's been sick for a couple of weeks, so we are hoping a cure is coming soon!  In the meantime, however, he has been eating like royalty: home-cooked chicken with rice and carrots!  He is going to be one sad doggie when he's back on dry food!

So, as has been the norm here, there have been additional festivals since the Apfelweinfest and the Museumsuferfest.  Dippemess was last weekend.  It is the largest autumn festival in the Rhein-Main region!  It's basically a big carnival, but with better food, rides and alcohol.

There are many creepy things here in Germany.  This kite at Dippemess is one: 

This creepy doll with the dead eye is another:

Back to Dippemess......Even though it was a cold night, Olga decided we HAD to go on a water ride called Poseidon.  This was Olga, Adam and Susanne after we got off:

Adam had some ice-cream:

 on our way to the best named ride EVER:

Yes, that is really called the BEACH POLYP.  It sounds like the name of a cancerous growth you get in your ass after getting too much sand where the sun don't shine.  
But, it was really this:
 Children suffocating inside giant inflatable balls, rolling around manky water.  This would NEVER fly in the litigious USofA!  Speaking of home, there was this strange place at Dippemess:
Notice, however, that they spelled Amerikan so that it's all Foreign Like.  Strange......

Not pictured here is the BEST RIDE EVER.  It was called Air Crash and had super heroes pictured all over it.  Despite all of that, it was seriously the best ride.  Check it out here.

We ended the evening at Dippemess on 1001 Nachts.  But, we had a moment to pose for a picture with this camel before boarding.  Look out, they spit!

In other news, I finally bought a bicycle, though it has not yet arrived.  It is supposed to look like this:
I guess we'll see when it actually gets here.  Now, Adam and I can be like Real Germans with our Fahrrader.  Being an American, however, the thought of actually riding a bike on the streets here terrifies me.  German motorists actually respect bicyclists, but I'm used to US roads where bicyclists have the same status as small rodents when it comes to Right of Way.  Now that we will have bikes, there is no longer any good excuse to keep us from joining the gym....   I have to try harder to come up with one.

German lessons are going relatively well.  I am scared of our teacher a bit.  I feel like if I don't do well enough she is going to get mad at me.  Maybe it's the German.  She only speaks German to us, and if you haven't noticed, it's a pretty harsh sounding language even when saying something nice!  Also, some German words are just plain weird and/or funny.  The word for Exit on the Autobahn is AUSFAHRT.  Pronounced like it sounds....kinda like ASS FART.  Also, the word for Jewelry is SCHMUCK.  The word for "walking speed" is SCRITTTEMPO.  Yes, there are THREE T's in that word.  That should be illegal or something.  And then, we saw this at Der Home Depot:
RAUS DAMIT apparently means Out With It!  This was a clearance item.  But it looks like Raus, Damn it!  Also, strange German factoid for telling time....If the Little hand is between the 5 and the 6 and the Big hand is on the 5, we would say, "It's 5:25."  Clear enough, but no...they do it better here.  They would say "It's 5 before half before 6," or, "Es ist funf vor halb sechs."  

Because THAT makes sense......

OK, that's all for now....I'm getting sleepy and I have to get up EXTRA early tomorrow to pick up a friend at the airport (flughafen) on the way to work.  I will shoot for less than three weeks this time before I post again......

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Our Visit to Castle Frankenstein (cue the crack of thunder, howling wolf and scary organ music)

Yesterday, we took a journey up into the mountains to visit the ruins of the Burg Frankenstein.  Sounds scary, right?  Not so much: Burg Frankenstein Photos.

Maybe if it wasn't such a beautiful day it would have been a better experience, but what can you expect for a 1 Euro admission price?

Every weekend seems to bring a Festival to Frankfurt.  Since we've been here, we've had Apfelweinfest, Museumsuferfest, and now this weekend is Leipsigerstrassenfest.  Not sure yet what we'll see there, but I expect it will involve too much alcohol and maybe some bratwurst (that seems to be a standard feature of Fests here).  However, the big news is that next weekend brings us Dippemess.  Looks like it is a kick ass carnival thing with rides, food, alcohol, music, etc. and it runs for 11 days!  Then, they do it again in the Spring!

The Germans sure love to party!

The City Ghost

So, one of the first things you notice when walking around Frankfurt (other than the interesting fashion statements previously discussed) is the City Ghost.
You can see him peeking at you from every surface possible:

Sometimes he is by himself, and sometimes he is with friends:
Also, you will sometimes see him with a smile, sometimes a frown...he's a very complicated ghost.  Although, he is something of a celebrity, having a whole website devoted to him where you can even buy merchandise with his likeness:

Adam is already compiling a photo essay of our friend, CG.  When complete, I'll probably add it here for everyone's enjoyment.

Keep an eye out at a city near you, CG has begun travelling and has popped up in places like Helsinki.  Philadelphia or Branchburg could be next!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

It's been an interesting week.....

This was the first week that I went into the office in Heidelberg.  I learned two new German words in the process: 1.) Stau (traffic jam) and 2.) Baustellen (roadwork).  Apparently, they are ALWAYS doing construction on the Autobahn A5.  I guess that's one way to keep the people working!  Still, it's a shorter commute than I had in the US, so there's that.  The next big project: obtain a car.....  Maybe I'll just pick up one of these from the neighborhood BMW dealer:

I'm sure we can squeeze Vader in the back seat.

We finally got a telephone.  Interesting fact about Germans: they apparently don't do corded phones.  We had hoped to find an el-cheapo deluxe phone at the local electronics store (called Saturn) for under 10 bucks, but instead had to shell out more than 30 Euro for their "base model" cordless phone!  WTF?!  And, it only took us about a day to figure out how to make calls with it (the instructions are in German.....).

Adam learned how to use the Washing machine.  Though the initial loads were done with fabric softener instead of detergent because we didn't know the word for detergent.  Based on the picture on the bottle, it seems we grabbed fabric softener......  That has since been remedied.  No dryer here, though, so it takes a bit longer to dry our clothes.  But, at least Mother Earth is happier.....

While grocery shopping the other day, we came upon frozen escargot in the freezer section.  The description on the box summed up our opinion...gross:

I commuted to work with a friend this week.  She lives in a different part of town than we do, so I had to journey over to her place in the AM.  While en route, I discovered this unfortunately named company (and I ain't talking about Eufinetz):

Yesterday was quite an action packed day, by our standards.  After sleeping late (which was VERY needed), we headed down to the Kleinmarkthalle.  It's kind of like a very upscale farmer's market.  They have all kinds of meats, veg, fruits, cheeses, plants, baked goods, etc.  It was an interesting experience.  However, I stepped on some lady's toe, and she got all cranky.  Whatever!  Don't wear open toed shoes in a crowded place!

Later, we met up with a friend to see Harry Potter 7 Part 2 in English and 3D!  It was very good, loved the use of 3D.  And, we now know where the local theater is, and they show English movies a few times a week. I think our next mission is Planet of the Apes (Planet der Affen) or Captain America.

After that, we journeyed down to Apfelweinfest 2011:
Das «Stöffche» wird gesellschaftsfähig - Apfelwein in Szenebars
Apfelwein is a local alcoholic drink.  It is kind of like apple cider, but more sour than sweet.  You can have it plain (glass on the left) or sauer gespritzt, which has seltzer mixed in (glass on the right).  We both prefer the gespritzt version.  Though, it is still an acquired taste.  It takes me getting to the second glass before I decide I like it.  And, we had some delicious rostbratwurst, chips, and fries (pommes).  Some local band was covering  "famous" German pop songs, including the best of Rammstein and Falco's Rock Me, Amadeus;

Ah, the 80's.  What a different time.  Though, walking through the streets of Frankfurt (and from the excellent People Watching opportunity afforded us from the wonderfully central location of our table at the Fest), you'd sometimes think it's still 1985.  They have some interesting fashion choices here:

The above is quite popular, as is this one:

Though not all of the guys with their collars up look like the douches pictured above.  Another popular style is the following (clashing colors and patterns):

Though not quite 80's related, hair is also interesting here.  While "the Bieber" is quite a popular hair style here, there is also plenty of this:



dude, use a little shampoo!

Then, after all of that excitement, we went to Sommerwerft 2011, an annual Arts festival.  I think I'll have nightmares for a while after this.  I had expected the event to be entirely like an episode of Sprockets, particularly the "He Loves Me, He Loves My Caribou" skit.

Instead, it was a bunch of freakish, monster babies

 floating through the air, leaking stuff all of the stage and each other.  Yikes.  Thanks for that, Germany.

Adam also experienced his first foreign flu thing this week, but he survived (though he is really still getting over it). Fortunately, the experience made him learn how to use the local Apotheke (pharmacy). That will be useful should one of us come down with German Measles or something while we're here....

And, it's only Sunday morning! After such an exciting week, how can next week possibly top it?! Though we hear next weekend is Museumsuferfest 2011 described on the event webpage as: an event of very special magnificence. On this weekend, Frankfurt celebrates its museums with a unique festival combining art, culture, music and gastronomy from around the globe. With over three million visitors per year and a show programme replete with museum exhibitions and stage performances of every variety, the Museum Embankment Festival ranks amongst Europe’s largest cultural celebrations.
 Will it be interesting? Definitely. Will we drink more than we should? Likely. Will I witness more German art that causes nightmares? Probably.

Until later....(unless the giant babies come and kill me in my sleep)....