Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Brian is coming home today from 3 days in Rothenburg for training. (FYI - I am dying to go to Rothenburg - it is supposedly one of the shopping meccas around Bavaria with the Kathe Wolfharts Christmas Store and Teddyland. Next time Brian heads up there Luke and I will too.) Tomorrow the movers come to drop off all our stuff! YAY!! I can't wait to make our house a home.
If you want to have a little fun - visit IKEA's German web site and see what you can decipher and translate. http://www.ikea.com/de/de/
Monday, February 25, 2008
Saturday, February 23, 2008
"Ohhhhh, look what I found! I can't believe you left this sitting around for me to find!!"
I passed my German driver's test this week! First try, thank you very much. :) I had to go to a 2 hour class and then take the 100 question test. I think being a passenger for 2 weeks and having Brian translate the goofy signs and explain some of the rules helped a lot.
We also had a CYS orientation (Child/Youth Services) and took a tour of the hourly care childcare facility. It is great! When Luke goes to hourly care, he will be in a room for children 3 years and younger. It is set up so there is an infant section, an eating area and then a preschool area divided into sections (reading, make believe, building, creating, etc, etc). There are also child sized potties (in stalls) and kiddie sinks. They really stress trying to teach kids how to do everything themselves so when they eat lunch they eat family style so the kids serve themselves, feed themselves, drink from cups (not sippies), throw away their garbage, clean off their plate, wash their hands, all independently. The teacher in the room is German and speaks both English and German to the kids. There are also a few children in there who are bilingual and prefer German as their primary language. Luke enjoyed his time there so much during our tour that we let him stay there for an extra hour while Brian went to a meeting and I went to run a couple of errands. I have him signed up for 3 hours in the afternoon on Thursday while the movers are here. I hope he enjoys himself then as much as he did the first time. And speaking of Thursday, while Brian handles the movers at the house, Luke and I will be going on base to attend Kids Club. Kids Club is for children under 5 and it meets every Thursday at the SAS (School Age Services) gym. Parents and kids interact through gross motor play and the activities include climbing, crawling, manipulating obstacles and other fun activites. It is like taking Luke to a Gymboree play group but not having to pay the ridiculously high prices! It is our first time to attend so I'll be sure to let everyone know if we have a major catastrophe or if it is just awful but I'm sure we'll have a great time.
Last night we had our first Army function since being here. A hail and farewell held at a gasthaus in the town down the road from us. It was SO NICE to see familiar faces (the Burkes and the Barkers are here, they were both in Hawaii with us) and it was great to meet new people. Family was welcome and that included children so we brought Luke with us and he had a great time. Every time someone was welcomed, well, everyone clapped, so Luke would drop whatever it was that he was doing, stand up straight and clap his little heart out while shouting YAY!!!!!!! Brian, Luke and I were welcomed last night and we went up front while LTC Barker introduced us and welcomed me with a bouquet of flowers. Everyone started clapping and Luke stood up front with us, happy as can be, clapping the loudest. He was in a great mood but a little all over the place. Thankfully it was a really informal environment, there were other small children there, and most everyone was a parent and all were really sweet with Luke. The single soldiers though Luke was the entertainment for the night. :) We ended up getting home fairly late (10pm) and Luke went right to bed and slept until 8:45 this morning. (Shortly thereafter we headed to Kelheim, read entry below.)
Little tidbits about what we have noticed in Germany? Well, it is clean! Everyone recycles, it is the law. There is rarely garbage on the side of the road or around houses. Even lumber piles are perfectly cut and stacked. People take pride in their house, their neighborhood and their country and they really care about their environment.
Even when it is 35 degrees outside, people hang laundry out to dry. as long as there is a bit of sun poking out, the laundry is hung to dry. We noticed laundry hanging out to dry behind the houses along the Danube. It just struck me as funny that while I am walking with my puffy coat, thinking that my hands were turning into ice cubes, that someone was hanging their laundry out to dry.
Germans don't put ice in their drinks - ever. You have to ask for it and they rarely drink tap water. If you ask for water, they bring you mineral water (ick) so you have to ask for wasser stille (non carbonated water) and they bring you an expensive bottle of flat water. They think it is strange if you ask for tap water but they will bring it to you if you ask. I'm not sure why this is, maybe because of all the minerals in the water here.
I know there are more things that have amused me or confused me but I can't think of any more right now. I should really write these things down when they pop in my head.
I guess that is about it. What is more boring for you all? History lessons or the mundane details of our life? :) I enjoy writing it so I hope you enjoy reading it.
Kelheim is another quaint German city full of hidden history. We knew we were looking for a castle and a monastary along the river. As we entered the town limits, we looked up and saw this HUGE circular building in the sky so we decided to figure out how to get up there and explore.
That huge circular building is the Hall of Liberation. (Taken from the tourist brochure we got when we purchased tickets to enter)
"King Ludwig I commissioned the construction of this monument to commemorate both the victorious battles against Napolean during the Wars of Liberation 1813-1815 and the unification of all the German races...The Hall of Liberation is an 18 sided polygon. The massive supporting buttresses of the facade are crowned by 18 monumental statues (see picture below - each of these signs holds the name of a German nation)...The number 18 also stands for the date of the battle of the nations, 19 October 1813, when Napoleon's forces were crushed by the coalition near Leipzig. The interior is dominated by 34 Goddesses of Victory (which are AMAZING to see, and kind of intimidating, like they could come to life at any time), are made of white marble, mounted with linked hands on an encircling base. The statues symbolize the 34 German states of the German Confederation, which was founded in 1815. The coffered ceiling (see picture) of the 45 meter-high domed hall and the divisions created by the alcoves, arcades and galleries give the room extra-ordinary acoustics, which combine with the architecture and the light to create an appropriately ceremonious atmosphere."
The entire area is surrounded by nature-trails and pathways for walking and cycling. The Hall looks over the Danube river and has an amazing view of Kelheim (the city below). We parked the car in the gravel parking lot and since the area wasn't crowded at all (and no vehicles are allowed past a certain point), we kept the stroller in the car and let Luke walk and run free. He held daddy's hand while walking up the stairs to get into the Hall and as we were leaving, standing at the top of the stairs and looking at the long way down, Luke grabbed Brian's hand then turned around and said "Mommy's coming, hold hands, two hands" and reached out and grabbed my hand as well. Guess he was a little daunted by how high up we were. Anyway, all that walking worked to our advantage and he was exhausted by the time we went to the next city where he stayed in his stroller the entire time without a peep. Below are our pictures from Kelheim - you'll see the inside and outside of the Hall of Liberation, including the massive staircase we had to climb to enter the front doors. We took pictures from the lookout over the Danube River, down to the river and up to the Hall.
From Kelheim we decided to find the monastery that everyone was telling us about. The monaserty is known in Germany as Kloster Weltenburg, or Weltenburg Abbey, and is a Benedictine monastery in the town of Weltenburg (obviously, right?) The Kloster also has a brewery and it is the oldest monastery brewery in the world, having been in operation since 1050! (Is that why all the guys at work know about it?) :) The Kloster was founded in 620 by Scottish or Irish monks and is said to be the oldest monastery in Bavaria. We actually found the monastery fairly quickly but we were on the wrong side of the river and our GPS told us to wait for the ferry! We knew there had to be another way so after taking a couple of pictures from across the river we headed back down the mountain and went back through Kelheim crossed a bridge which took us right to the old monastery. (Pictures below - driving through Kelheim and the entry way into the monastery)
The highlight of the monastary is the abbey church, dedicated to St George.(below) We entered the the church and there was a big group with a German tour guide and everyone was sitting, listening to the guide and looking around at all the beautiful things he was pointing out (a lot of Baroque detail in the church). We waited to see if anyone had cameras and a few did but nobody was using a flash. Well I didn't want to be the obnoxious one flashing my camera all over the place and for all I know you aren't allowed to use a flash camera inside so we took a couple of pictures, without the flash, and they turned out okay, you can be the judge.
We walked from the church up to a small chapel at the top of the ledge overlooking the river. Along the walk are the Stations of the Cross. For all of you non-Catholics out there, the Stations of the Cross are images that depict the final hour of Jesus and is practiced most often during the season of Lent on Friday nights. The movie Passion of the Christ follows the Stations of the Cross. I took a picture of every station (there are 14) and here are pictures of stations 2 and 3.
The Weltonburg abbey was dissolved in 1803 but in 1842 it was re-founded and was raised to the status of independent abbey in 1913. Besides the traditional duties of hospitality (the abbey has a few restaurants and stores alongside the church), it has pastoral responsibilities over 4 parishes. (according to Wikipedia)
I can't believe we live this close to so much history! I love it! I love Germany and I love the road trips we get to take and the history lessons we get to learn. I still am a putz with the language but I am getting more and more comfortable asking if people speak English and I am enjoying myself more when we are in the restaurants and shops. When you first arrive in a foreign country and can not understand a word that is being said all around you, it can be a bit intimidating and can leave you feeling a little helpless. The more we explore and the more we try to learn small but essential phrases, the more comfortable I become.
(Oh, and seeing McDonalds makes me feel at home. We stopped at the Micky-D's in Kelheim before heading home)
Friday, February 22, 2008
All that traveling in the Bavarian Alps made me want to watch the Sound of Music! Maybe I'll do that sometime soon. I definitely want to go back to Garmisch and Mittenwald. I'm sure I'll enjoy it even more when I have a better understanding of, and a firmer grasp of, the German language. I would like to be able to order a coffee and streudel and browse the shops without feeling totally inept.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Anyways - next Thursday! Woohoo!
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Note: make sure you say these with a strong German accent! No twangs, drawls or any other American accent. Think Hanz and Franz - "Ve are going to PAMP (hits chest) you up!" (Old Saturday Night Live anyone? No, well nevermind then...)
English word/phrase - German word/phrase (pronounciation)
please - bitte (bit-a)
thanks - danke (donk-a)
good - gut (goot)
How much does that cost? - Wieviel kostet das? (Vee-vel cost-et das?)
I don't speak German - Ich spreche kein Deutch (Eek shrpreck-ay kine doy-ch)
Where is the bathroom? (Very important!) - Wo ist die Toilette? (Vo eest dee tolet-ay?)
Some words we learned while on our trip...
Dog - hund (hoond)
Mountain - berg (burg)
Cold - kalt (kalt)
One more - noch ein (knock eye-n)
Tea - tee (tay)
And the Sesame Street edition...
Red - rot (rote)
Blue - blau (blaw)
Green - grun (groon)
Yellow - gelb (gelb)
One - eins (eye-ns)
Two - zwei (zvy)
Three - drei (dry)
Innsbruck has a ton of history, it should! The initial habitants of the area were from the Stone Age. Hitler annexed Austria during Nazi Germany and Innsbruck and a concentration camp was held there. The Olympics were held twice in Innsbruck and the city is filled with churches, museums, parks and historical sites. The Swarovski Crystal Museum is also in Innsbruck and someday I hope to go there to experience the "crystal worlds" throughout the museum.