February 21, 2011

52 Things: #12, #16, and #28… (and Some Other Unrelated Stuff, Too)

I knocked three things off of the list this weekend. Unintentionally, too. Thursday night, during one of our Skype video chats, Brenna and I decided that, since we were both off for most of the day on Friday, that we would go to the Dachau concentration camp memorial site. I’d already been but Brenna had yet to go and I was happy to go again because one, it’s free, and two, it’s really interesting and always worth a visit. We met at the fish fountain (Standard!) at noon and then argued about whether or not we should be honorable and get an S Bahn ticket. I convinced her that we did, in fact, need to get a ticket (we’re honorable residents!) and assured her that I’d read all of the ticket options and that I knew exactly which one was the one that we needed.

Turns out I was wrong. Which brings me to #12 on my list of things to do in Munich:

Be stymied by Munich’s public transport pricing system.

This happens all the time. I don’t know WHY it’s so confusing it just is. There are rings and zones and inner districts and outer districts, partner tickets and single tickets, day trips, single trips, stripe cards. Yada, yada. It’s ridiculous. Most of Munich lies within rings 1-4 and on the map, ther area is coded in white and green. Weird shades of green, mind you! Dachau is on the edge of the fourth ring in the green… I think. Oh shit, I don’t know! I thought we needed the outer district ticket (Au├čenraum: green, yellow and red zone) because Dachau was in the green zone. So we bought the outer ticket, only to discover later, as our ticket is being checked (Brenna, you’re WELCOME!) that the Au├čenraum ticket covers rings 5-16. What? Who even goes out that far? Haha. Seriously. So not only did we have the wrong ticket but I was missing rings 3-4… the only rings that I needed to get from point A to point B. And we were definitely inside of ring 3 when he checked us. But the guy didn’t get me for it. It probably happens a lot. Haha. But I did have my MONTHLY TRAIN PASS (which is #16 – “Buy a monthly public transport ticket”) so I had rings 1-2 and rings 5-16. I was officially stymied.


Halfway through the journey, we met some fellow Americans who had taken the seats near us and we quickly befriended them. How could we not with Brenna and I being the only two people in the entire train car that were speaking? They heard us and sat down next to us, comforted by our shared home language. The four of us were all headed to the same place and since I’d been to Dachau once already, I kind of became the unofficial tour guide. And Brenna became the unofficial comic relief. Although at times it felt a tad bit inappropriate, the girl kept us laughing throughout the two or so hours that we spent walking around the historical site. I’ve been there before so I won’t get into it but the place is just depressing. As it has every right to be. Horrible things happened there. But either way, it was nice to have Brenna there to keep things jovial. Haha.

We spent the rest of the weekend showing our new friends around Munich (Schloss Nymphenburg and the inside of not one but two McDonald’s, haha). Also, #28 (tell someone off for standing on the wrong side on the escalator) comes in to play because I got to yell at one of the girls to move to the right side of the escalator. Haha. Sorry, Tyler!

On Friday night, Brenna and I joined some friends at Mike’s house for dinner and wine and then we all went out and stayed in the city, bar hopping until 4 am. We went from Sausalitos to Ned Kelly’s to Kilian’s, to a cheap kebap shop where the owner tried to take advantage of us. We picked up some interesting characters throughout the night the best being an Italian cocaine dealer who thought we were the cops after Brenna told him to ‘Leave us the f%$k alone and go away!’ Haha. On Saturday night I was home with the girls so it was macaroni and cheese and a few streaming episodes of Desperate Housewives for me.

DSC07842Me and Brenna. I ADORE this picture mostly because I adore this girl!

On Sunday morning, I met Laura, Andrzej, Mike, and Ana at Hauptbahnhof where we bought a Bayern ticket and caught a train to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. We spent an incredible day in the little city, braving the cold and ski crowds. It was the last day of the Alpine Ski World Championships but the crowds weren’t too bad. We did a pretty easy hike to the partnachklamm and it was so worth it. The ice was INCREDIBLE through there - I’d never seen anything like it before.




After our hike, we hung out at Kathe’s house for a few hours and were fed chips, hummus, and animal crackers that belonged to some other kid. We’re still not sure what she was talking about on that one. Haha. Dustin was there for one more day so we spent some time with him, too, and after Kathe entertained us and warmed us up, we all walked to the Bahnhof and had drinks in Sausalitos. Then we went home… where Laura, Andrzej, and I had drinks at Jaeger’s happy hour.

Then I came home and now it’s 1 am and I’m posting this blog. Life is good, isn’t it? I have absolutely NO complaints.

February 18, 2011

52 Things Challenge: #26 Host Visitors During Oktoberfest

I did this! Three times!

Oktoberfest is in September and October and it lasts for two weeks – 16 days, I believe. It’s pure madness, I can’t even describe it in words. Just beer and millions and millions of people. Revelry, beer, and people. Drunk people. I experienced it a few times in a drunken stupor (and a few more times I was clear, don’t worry!) because when you go to Oktoberfest… you go to Oktoberfest. You start drinking at 11 am because you have to secure your table at 10. And then you’re often home in your bed by 8:30 at night and you’re completely smashed, thinking it’s got to be at least 3 am. It’s ridiculous. But it was fun! And I was really, really lucky to have some wonderful people visiting me to share in the Oktoberfest shenanigans.

My lovely lady friend, Susie Q, came to visit me first, on opening weekend. Susie Q is a family friend and if you’ve ever heard me talk about my Oma Kathe on this blog, then it is worth it to know that Susie Q is Kathe’s oldest daughter. Susie’s sister and Kathe’s daughter, the crazy, candle lady Christina, is our connecting point. I used to work for her in Monterey, selling candles and running around after her grand-daughter, and we built an incredibly close employer-employee friendship that has, thus far, been incredibly beneficial to my heart and soul. Christina and her hubbie, Bunny Buttons (okay, that’s not REALLY his name), have been like a second set of parents to me and so their family is very important to me. So, THAT is how I know Susie Q and since their entire family is German and once lived in Munich, it was only natural that one of them had to come visit me. Susie Q was the one! She spent an entire day with me and my friends, watching the Oktoberfest parade, eating grilled hendl, and drinking beer from at least five different tents. Tourists in the tents would constantly ask if she was my mom and we just went with it. Who wouldn’t want to party with their mom at Oktoberfest? Haha.


On the very same day one of my best girl friends from college, Miss Kate, passed through Munich for the night with her friend, Kari. I somehow managed to find her at her hotel and then spent an hour, maybe 45 minutes, drinking with her and Kari in one of the tents before I became so drunkenly confused (I thought she went outside so I was waiting for her out there for 20 minutes but she was inside the whole time, right where I left her) and then I was just so lost that I ended up going home. But, even so, it was so nice to see her, if even for an hour, and I’m sure I was equally as entertaining. Haha.


The following weekend two of my friends from England flew down to Munich and joined me in the city. I met both Alison and Helena while we were working together at a summer camp in Pennsylvania, the summer of 2007 (and 2008!), and have kept in touch with them since. Being in Germany meant that I was incredibly close to both of them so getting them to come down to Munich for a weekend was really easy! They came in on a Friday and stayed until early Monday morning. We did Oktoberfest twice (both times were wild) and even went to Salzburg, Austria for a day. We had so much fun, it was so good having them here and I wish we could do it again!

61491_440862992788_514437788_5023555_57952_nAlison, Helena, and me at Hacker Pschorr

February 16, 2011

Vlog Episode 4: I Don’t Have An Accent… But I Do Speak American!

This one goes out to Risha. Ich liebe dich, mein leibling!

Vlog: The Accent Meme

Say these words:

Aunt, Route, Wash, Oil, Theatre, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught

Now answer these questions:

What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
What is the bug that when you touch it, it curls into a ball?
What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
What do you call gym shoes?
What do you say to address a group of people?
What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
What do you call your grandparents?
What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
What is the thing you change the TV channel with?

February 14, 2011

Bang! Just a Bunch of Bullet Points

Recently, worthy content for this blog has been neglected (sort of) and my life, as of late, has become a series of bullet points:

  • My camera is still out of commission and is worse off than it was when I first spoke of it’s misfortune. Now I fear that it is completely screwed and that it will no longer be of service to me. Sad face but hey, lesson learned. The really hard way.

  • The weather in Munich is shaping up. It is showing signs of spring and temperatures are up in the 40’s (some 50 degree days last week!) and the sun has made a few appearances, too. Unfortunately, there has also been rain and blustery cold but no more snow. For that, I am eternally grateful.

  • I went to the Munich Readery on Thursday and got myself a new book. I was in dire need of some new material – I’ve been doing crossword puzzles before bed for almost two months. Finally something to read – I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb. So far, so good. It’s almost 900 pages and is, thus far, a bit slow but I love the author (She’s Come Undone!!!!) so we’ll see if it shapes up to be a winner in the end.



  • Things in the au pair household have been pretty monochromatic. Nothing very exciting to speak of. I bought the girls a small Valentine’s Day present – little unicorn toys that change color in the water – just to let them know that I think of them and love them. We also made a special present for their mom for V Day. (Well, I thought of it, funded it, and put it together. Haha.) I got a double sided picture frame and put two pictures of them in either side and the girls made her each a homemade Valentine’s Day card. I’ll put them all on the table before breakfast in the morning. Just a nice little holiday treat for everyone. Except me. Haha.

  • Last week Fionualla bought the two of us plane tickets to Cologne for March 11-14th. We’re missing carnival, unfortunately, and that’s entirely my fault for mixing up my vacation time but it will be nice to get out and go somewhere new anyway. She has a friend from home who lives there so we get free accommodation and have a built-in tour guide. It will be good!

  • German beer has made this past week/weekend a crazy one. It all started on Tuesday night where I managed to belt out a pretty awesome rendition of Shania Twain’s Any Man of Mine at the karaoke bar and then on Thursday, we had a wild night at a local ToyTown meet-up that was serving free shots of Jaegermeister with every beer purchased. That never ends well, as we’ve experienced twice before at this same bar. Haha. On Friday night, we said goodbye to Eric who has left Munich for a few months and had a delicious leaving dinner at a great Croatian restaurant here in Munich called, Opatija. I called it an early night and went home but caught up with my crazy friends on Saturday night. A family friend was in town so Oma Kathe brought him into Munich so he could meet my friends and hang out. His family is kind of like my surrogate family so we got along really fast and had a great night out with my friends. I’m planning on going to Garmisch next weekend to visit them again. I also got to see some old friends, Helena and Zainab, who were in town visiting from England. I didn’t see very much of them - we all had our own things going on - but it was good to see them again, even for the little bit that we were together. Now I’m looking forward to slowing down a little bit this week to re-evaluate my alcohol tolerance levels and practice some much needed self control. Haha.


  • I still have a lot of things left to do/document on my “52 Things in Munich” list. This will resume shortly! I’ve been kind of busy/lazy/uninspired lately so I will get back on it!

  • Happy Valentine’s Day!

February 7, 2011

The Untimely Death of a Beloved Companion and the Valuable Lesson I Learned In the Process

I have learned an incredible lesson this past weekend – a lesson which has, ultimately, cost me the life of my Nikon camera and four months worth of valuable photographic memories. On Friday night I made the mistake of taking my camera out to the bars. I’ve done this before without consequence so I thought, “No big deal. It won’t be so bad.” As the night progressed, and as my friends and I moved from bar to bar, more alcohol was consumed and, as a result, my level of drunkenness ran parallel to my level of consumption. For any person who has ever had one of these nights, you know perfectly well what I mean. The more you drink, the dumber, louder, and more uninhibited you become. This, unfortunately, is what what happened to me. At some point in the night, at one of our favorite hostel bars, I took my camera out of my bag and it met it’s untimely demise. Somewhere between arriving at the bar and then leaving it an hour or so later, my camera took a generous bath in some of German’s finest light beer. I don’t know how much or when or how it happened because my drunken memory is failing me but what I do know is that I went through the entire night and much of the next morning without a clue that this had happened.

On Saturday morning, as my friends and I waited for an UBahn to take us into the city for brunch, I took my camera out of my bag to start the trip off with some necessary photography. Low and behold, I find that my camera does not work. It turned on and the LCD screen showed what the lens was seeing but the green ON/OFF indicator light wasn’t lit, which was unusual. I had the camera in photo mode, aimed and then pushed the shutter button only to have the LCD screen go black and my point-and-shoot lens recede back into the camera at an usually slow speed. There wasn’t an error message or anything. Just that. I tried it again a few more times. Same problem. My friend Scott tried to mess around with it but nothing worked. After a little bit of detective work, I find that the lens is covered in sticky beer and that my camera smells like Oktoberfest.

German Beer: 5,000,000. Heather: 0.

FML. This kept running through my head all afternoon. Eff-Em-El.

As the weekend wore on, I tried all kinds of fix-it suggestions – given by friends on Facebook and through Google (which was fairly useless in this situation because, apparently, this camera sucks and no one ever buys it). I couldn’t really let the camera sit to dry because the spill had happened more than 12 hours earlier. It was already dry. I couldn’t take the camera apart because I had no idea what to do in that situation (although once, in my freshmen year of college, I took apart my old school Cybershot to fix a lens error and it worked!). So, I went with the only suggestion I had left. Submerge your camera in a bowl of rice to draw out condensation. I didn’t have very much rice so I had someone bring me a bag and then I just let it be for two nights.

This morning, I took my camera out of the rice bag for a progress report only to find that rice had gotten inside the lens and inside the flash compartment and that the camera is now worse off than it was before. Can I repeat myself? Eff-Em-El.

I’m sitting here at my desk with my bruised and, ultimately, defeated Nikon sitting in front of me and I’m trying not to have a panic attack. I haven’t even had this camera for a year. I got it at the end of March, last year. It was a graduation present from my mom and her boyfriend and it was something nice that I would have to document my year abroad in Germany. So far, it hasn’t let me down. Aside from a few issues with blur management, the camera has been faithful to me. It didn’t deserve this untimely fate, which, on my budget and my current situation, is the only option that I have left; to just let it be. I could try to take it apart and fish out the stray pieces of rice but I won’t know what I’m doing and I will probably just make it worse. I could take it into a shop but that would require finding one that speaks English, where costs aren’t high. I don’t know what else to do. I don’t even know what kind of warranty this camera has and I highly doubt that my warranty covers “beer spillage.”

There are worse things in the world that can happen to me. This much I know. And I will move on and get past it. There are other cameras in the world to save up for a buy. I still have my crappy Cybershot to take pictures with. It’s not the same but it will have to do. But, at the end of it all, I have learned a very valuable lesson. Two, actually.

Lesson 1: Don’t take your expensive, fancy camera out when you go drinking at bars.

Lesson 2: You have to make mistakes to learn these lessons, unfortunately, but you are human, you are not perfect, and you have to forgive yourself and move on.

I am disappointed in myself, of course. I should have known better. But I have learned to take better care of my valuables, especially those that are given as gifts, and I am continuously learning lessons in the consequences of my alcoholic intake. I do not yet have a problem or an addiction but I am constantly feeling the consequences of my drunken behavior and I wonder if it’s time for me to start paying attention to that. I know that this is part of the experience of being young and being in Germany but if I don’t take action now, I fear that I’ll cross a line that I can’t come back from. I hope that I can be strong for myself and that my friends will understand and support me should I try to take action against my poor drinking habits. We shall see!

Until then, I will do what I can with my Cybershot and should my Nikon ever come back to life, you’ll be the first to know. Or second, after Facebook, of course. ;)

DSC07532It feels like spring here in Munich right now. Hope my Cybershot does it justice.

February 2, 2011

52 Things Challenge: #52 Stroke the Residenz Lions

The Munich Residenz is a prominent tourist location here in the city. It is now a museum but was once the home of the Bavarian dukes, electors, and kings for almost 400 years. The Residenz is a ridiculously beautiful palace complete with gardens and magnificent architecture. I have yet to visit the museum itself but I’ve been to many of the surrounding areas – the Hofgarten and the Temple of Diana more than once.

I didn’t know this before I came to Munich but the four bronze lion statues that guard the outer entrances of Residenz are considered extremely lucky. Apparently, the luck only comes if you stroke the nose of just one lion as you pass but I’ve heard all kinds of variations. The one that seems to stick is that you rub any three noses but not all four or your luck is cancelled out. Between the massive hordes of lady bugs that seem to have taken up residence in my bedroom, hallway, and staircase and the frequent nose rubbing that I do of these lions, I’m going to be lucky for the rest of my life!