May 28, 2011

30 Days of Germany: Day 7 & 8 (May 27-28): Sealife and Olympiapark


After eleven months of being in Munich, I finally went to Sealife, the local aquarium at Olympiapark. Honestly, it has never been very high up on my list of ‘must-see’ attractions here in Munich but I'm glad that I got to go anyway. I’ve been pretty spoiled in my life when it comes to aquariums because I lived in Monterey, California for five years which is home to one of the world’s largest aquariums – the Monterey Bay Aquarium. (How many times can you use the word aquarium in one sentence?!)

I took one of my six-year-old charges to Sealife after a day of indecision. When you have two twins that can’t make up their mind or agree on what they want to do and throw ridiculous tantrums whenever they don’t get what they want, you have to compromise, right? Discipline, no way! Just split them up and send the au pair off with the one that wants to go the aquarium. At least we got to do the fun part. Eenie and I went to see the fish and Vee went with her mom to play at a friend’s house. We came back from the aquarium and ate mini-pizzas and watched Nanny McPhee. Then my friend Anne came over and practiced for her new face painting gig. We were willing volunteers. We had fun, it was a good Friday. But let’s just say – Sealife does not compare to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. This one was wimpy. But it did have sharks and a sea turtle! Win!


May 26, 2011

30 Days of Germany: Day 5 and 6 (May 25-26)–Sweet Treats and Naked People

Two days in one… yes.

Yesterday my friend Anne and I had some delicious cupcakes that were absolutely delightful. In Germany, they don’t really do cupcakes on a widespread basis. In fact, I don’t even think they make frosting or use sugar in this country. Ha. Every cake that I’ve ever had is just… cake. So, needless to say, I was a happy girl with cupcake in hand. I had two – cookies and cream, with an amazing cream cheese frosting – and a vanilla cupcake with a freaking brown baked inside of the batter. Oh my God, it was like an orgasm in my mouth. Not literally. But you know… cupcake-sugar-deliciousness orgasm. *ahem*

Also, while we enjoyed our cupcakes, naked Europeans joined the sun all around us. Yes, I see leathery saggy boobs and old man penises pretty much everyday. Welcome to Europe!


May 24, 2011

30 Days of Germany: Day 4 (May 24th)–Four Seasons

This week I’ve been spending a lot of time outside in the yard with the girls because the weather has been gorgeous. Warm, even hot spring days, blue skies, long hazy nights. Of course, there is springtime in California but it’s not so dramatic since the seasons don’t really change where I live. They just kind of… blend together. And spring is beautiful anywhere, really, but I am definitely going to miss these spring days that I spent in Munich. And just a few months ago… it was winter. Cold, unapologetic winter. And before that – fall. (Oh God, now I sound like Rebecca Black! *facepalm*) Fall here in Munich was breathtaking – I don’t think I’ve ever been more in love with a city as I was with Munich during the fall. And, as usual, before fall was summer – crisp, balanced temperatures in August, hot, muggy days in July, endless amounts of rain in June. It transitioned into fall like clockwork and so on and so forth. You walked outside and just knew that the next season was upon you. It’s not like that in California. We have foggy season, rainy season, and sunshine season. Not necessarily in that order. I will miss the four seasons of Germany, especially at the end of summer and winter, when I’m longing for the colors of fall and the renewal of spring. I love that I was able to spend the whole year here, experiencing each season for myself and documenting it as I went.

May 23, 2011

30 Days of Germany: Day 3 (May 23… kind of) Bavarian Food

Since I didn’t go anywhere important today, I thought I’d feature something different from the day before – Bavarian food! Ever since I had my first traditional Bavarian meal, I’ve been in love. It’s delicious – and they love meat and potatoes and salt and all of the things that go straight to your ass. I’m partial to the pork and kartoffel so when we sat down for dinner yesterday, I read my way through the menu until I found something worthy. Scwhweinbraten. It is a Bavarian pork roast, basically, and it is delicious. When the waitress set my plate down in front of me, I couldn’t stop salivating. It tasted even better than it looked. The dish came with Kartoffelklöße, potato dumplins, and also, wirsing, which was some kind of vegetable, cabbage puree. It, too, was delicious, despite the fact that it looked like spit up baby food. Ha. Around the table there was spargel (white asparagus), saurkraut, saurbraten (another type of pork roast), and spargelsuppe (asparagus soup). We feasted like true Bavarians and enjoyed every single bite. It was delicious. One of the first things that I will do when I get back to California is locate some German/Bavarian restaurants close to home. It is a must at this point! Either that or I’m going to have get some recipes and make it all myself!

Also, I stole some of Eric’s food porn pictures for this post! Danke, darling!




249067_10150182722985981_733545980_7337954_7921357_nI took this one!

And how could I forget – because a meal in Bavaria isn’t complete without a pint of beer – the rauschbier? This beer is a particular blend for the city of Bamberg and it’s very interesting. It has a smoky, meaty flavor to it and is very rich. We got a round across the table and while most of us finished them off, some of us just couldn’t get through it. Simon had three glasses while Sara passed hers up entirely and I gave the rest of mine to Dieter. It’s definitely an interesting taste but I’m glad that I tried it anyway!


30 Days of Germany: Day 2 (May 22nd)–Bamberg, Germany

This past weekend my friends and I took a Sunday day trip to Bamberg, Germany. There wasn’t any significant reason as to why we chose that particular city – we just wanted to go somewhere in Bavaria that we hadn’t been before. So, for my second day, I’m going to feature some pictures and travel adventures from our trip to Bamberg.

We met at Hauptbahnhof at 9 am on Sunday morning and the twelve of us split up three Bayern tickets. The traveling menagerie – me, Eric, Nuno, Ana, Dieter, Sara, Anne, Simon, Kiira, Elisa, Florian, and Kaja. Our train left Munich around 10 am so we bought some snacks and beer and we settled in for the three hour train ride to Bamberg. I love train rides – especially when I’m with my friends – so the fact that we had to sit on the train for such a long time was not a big deal to me at all. We listened to each other’s iPods (Backstreet Boys serenades!), played games (between two different iPads, Ana’s phone, and my iPod), drank beer, laughed, talked, gossiped. When we reached Nuremberg, we had to switch to an SBahn and take another hour long train ride into Bamberg. By the time we got on the SBahn, it was already 12:30 and it was HOT. We spent the next 45 minutes on the suburban train sweating and drinking even more beer to beat the heat. But, it was worth it when we got to Bamberg and stumbled off the train – half of us drunk and smiling, having just thoroughly enjoyed our long journey. We ambushed the McDonald’s bathroom and Florian let me sneak into the men’s rest room on his receipt code. Win! Then we journeyed out into the city with no real direction or travel intentions – just a desire to wander around and find stuff that was interesting.

DSC00509Anne and I with our Helles on the train! It’s not a Bavarian train ride without ‘em!

DSC00545Our trash can on the SBahn. Party machen!

The city of Bamberg was quaint and absolutely beautiful. It rained for the first hour or so that we were there but that didn’t stop us from enjoying it. I think the gray skies gave the city a bit of a menacing charm – and I got to dance in the rain. No big deal! It’s just water! We wandered from church to church – one of which was located on top of this massive hill with breathtaking views of the city. We took pictures on the numerous bridges that we crossed – Bamberg has the reputation of being called Germany’s Venice, for the rivers and bridges and buildings located on the riverbanks. After the rain and after we emerged from two hours worth of dinner, beer, and good company in a traditional Bamberg restaurant, the city was ridiculously beautiful and we got some great pictures.



DSC00597Lighting candles in the church – thinking of my ma!





DSC00726The whole traveling group (from left to right) – Florian, Elisa, Kaja, Sara, me, Anne, Simon (we made him crouch down! ha), Ana, Nuno, Eric, Dieter, and Kiira


We made our way back to the train station just in time to catch a 7:15 train back to Nuremberg. We loaded up on snacks and beer (seriously, we were drinking ALL DAY) and jumped on the train that would take us to our connection train in the next city. We were all so tired but we drank right through it and as the train traveled on – we got sillier, louder, and more ridiculous. I’m sure that anyone who was on the train with us didn’t want to be and by the time we got to Nuremberg, we had more stores and more beer to buy. So for the last three hour train ride that would take us to Munich, most of us managed two to three beers each, and we even got away with playing a deliciously entertaining drinking game that involves whispering predictions of who’s most likely to do what and a lot of irony, laughter, and extreme entertainment. We made it back to Munich at 11:30 and while everyone else decided to go home, Anne and I thought it would be fun to keep the night going and we ended up at our favorite cluster of hostel bars. It turned out to be an epic fail as Anne had her money stolen and I had to borrow 10 EUR from a hotel desk clerk near my house because I didn’t have enough change to pay my taxi driver. Epic fail, lesson learned. But, in the end, it was a travel day success. This trip was one of the best that I’ve taken since living in Germany and is almost up there at the top with our 22-hour adventure to Ludwig’s Neuschwanstein castle in August. With only 27 days left in Munich, it is the days like this that I will hold on to and hope for as my time in Munich continues to dwindle down. I will never forget these days and I consider myself extremely blessed to be able to share them with the people that have made my experience in Munich so much better. Next time, road trip to Berlin! Woo!

May 21, 2011

30 Days of Germany – Day 1: The English Garden in the Spring

I’ve said it before on here and I’m fairly certain that I proclaim every time that we gather there but I love Munich’s English Garden. It is my favorite place in the city. I’m heart broken to leave it behind (I do live on the beach though so it’s a fair trade) and I will miss it greatly. In every season, the EG has been faithful to me and it always provides. I’m always taking pictures, of everything, and there’s always something to do – whether it’s ride my bike along the trails, go for a walk, or just lay out in the sun. Right now, in the middle of spring, the EG is giving me every reason to be sad that I am leaving Germany in a month. With all of this wonderful, sunny weather that we’ve been having, my friends and I have been able to meet up at the EG at least once a week and just lay out in the sun and do a whole lot of nothing. It’s incredibly relaxing and I’m working a pretty sweet tan. I hope to come back to the EG again someday in the future. Hopefully sooner than later.

Day 1: May 21
Englischer Garten



Since I am leaving Germany in one month, I thought I’d start a little meme of my own -  30 days of Germany. Each day I will take a picture of something here in Germany that I love or experience and blog about it here. This is my way of saying a proper good-bye to my far-away home.

May 20, 2011

30 Days

Today is May 20th. I leave Germany in exactly one month.  That’s 30 days, 20 hours, 19 minutes, and 32 seconds until my flight takes off from Frank Joseph Strauss on Monday, 20 June 2011 at 10:30ish in the morning. I have been in Munich for 11 months – 339 days – and since then my entire life has been changed. I don’t know how to put it into words what this experience has done to change me but I just feel it. I’ve learned so much about myself since I first arrived here. I’m going home next month, an entirely different person than when I first left. At the core of me, I am essentially the same but all at once, I am entirely different. How can I go back to my old life and live again after experiencing something like this? It feels as if there is nothing else other than Munich yet I know that is not true. This is just what my life is right now and I love it. I love my life right now more than I’ve ever loved it before. I hope that love and appreciation stays with me as I travel home. I can’t wait to share this experience with everyone back home but, at the same time, I’m going to ache for it with every story that I tell.

Oh geez. I can do this. 30 days to enjoy the last of this experience. 30 wonderful wunderbar days!

May 17, 2011

52 Things Challenge: #17 and #18 (and Honorable Mentions: #11, #19, #28, #30, #36, and #39)

I’ve failed at finishing this “52 Things in Munich” bucket list recently and so I need to catch up! I even completed a few of them months ago and never posted the evidence. So… this is my attempt at keeping up with myself!

# 17: Wash your wallet in the Fish Fountain at Marienplatz.

This is, technically, a tradition for Ash Wednesday following Fasching – you are supposed to wash your wallet in the fountain for good fortune. However, Fio and I did it in February (not March) when it was freezing cold and still snowing outside.


#18: Have espresso at Café Tambosi.

Café Tambosi is one of my favorite little café’s in Munich – not because I eat there (I never have!) – but because of it’s location. It’s located in Odeonsplatz and is nestled between the main square and the Hofgarten which neighbors Munich’s historical Residenz. On the street side, Tambosi has great out door seating, which faces Odeonsplatz and the Theatinerkirche across the plaza.


The back side of Café Tambosi, however, is my favorite part of this quaint little café. In the spring and summer, the outdoor seating of Tambosi is located under a canopy of trees and shade and is neighbored by gorgeous fountains and the beautiful Hofgarten to the right. Apparently, Café Tambosi is famous for it’s delicious espresso and since it was on the list, Fio and I decided to try it. I don’t really like espresso (or coffee for that matter) so I wasn’t that impressed but it was nice to finally sit inside and see what the hype was about. Hopefully I can try the food and other drinks before I leave!

DSCN4450Fio and her espresso

DSCN4451Nevermind my stupid hair or my unimpressed expression. lol

Now for some Honorable Mentions….

May 16, 2011

A Final Weekend at Fruhlingsfest, Late Nights, Impending Endings, Employment Prospects, and the Joy of Being an Au Pair

This past weekend I went for a second round at Fruhlingsfest and I had so much fun. Beer festivals are one of the things that I will miss the most about Munich. And there are a lot of things that I will miss but beer festivals are definitely up there at the top of the list. I like it much better than Oktoberfest because there are less people and more available tables, faster service, etc etc. We had a table right up front, center stage to the band that played all night long. We danced and sang along and had a merry time, right up until they closed and kicked us all out. And I practiced great self control. It was my pay day and I only bought two beers. Instead of five like I did the previous weekend. After the festival, a few of us braved the rain and decided to go clubbing. We ended up at Cord, a club that plays some great indie music and even though I paid 6 EUR for the cover, I only stayed about an hour or so before I left to catch the last train home. I was ridiculously tired from all of the dancing that I had been doing that day. I made it home by 2:30, soaking wet and cold, took a long, late night bath, and then went to bed close to 4 am. The night before that, I'd stayed up until about the same time, drunk off of Friday the 13th festivities and two or so bottles of wine. Last night, on Sunday, I stayed out with friends at a shisha bar until 2 a.m. I definitely need to make this week one of early nights and catch up a bit. I'm starting to feel ill from only sleeping 4 to 5 hours every night. Personal challenge accepted! Unless I have plans (aka Shamrock's karaoke) I will be in bed at 10:30 and lights out by 11 most nights this week. Haha. We'll see how well this goes!


Happy German girl at the festival!

DSC00161They had these lit up while they played “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash

DSC00182Full Monty show on the Augustiner stage!

DSC00234Q62, Shisha bar!

225165_10150252629534416_600209415_8869970_561622_nPaul taught me this trick and Cris tagged me in this photo. Thanks Cris!

Yesterday (the 15th) was the one-month mark to the end of my au pair contract. On June 15th, I am officially done being an au pair and I will be set free for five final says in Munich, unemployed and with approximately 225 EUR in hand. My friends and I have planned an epic going away slash birthday party for a collective few of us and that happens two days before I board my plane back to California. It will be a great party and I'll probably have a few drunken cries through most of it. I don't have a lot of pocket money (thanks Rome!) for the remainder of my time here so I'm limited in what I can do for the rest of my time here but I'm hoping to go to Berlin in June to visit my friend Alison and then she'll come to Munich and visit me here. It'll be good to see her before I leave, too, since she's become my best friend from the days working as a camp counselor. I have a lot of things to organize, too, as far as packing is concerned. I want to get rid of a lot of it - so many of my clothes got ruined by the damn washer and dryer and the shitty hard water in Germany so I'm going to throw most of them away. It still feels like I'll never get it all home again. Ah! I can't believe I have to leave this place... it feels impossible. It reminds me of the quote from Eat, Pray, Love:

“The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying;
the only thing more impossible than staying was leaving.”

I want to go home – God, do I want that. I miss my mom and I want to meet the dog that she bought to fill the void in her heart after I left. I don’t want to live with this family anymore – or any family, for that matter. I want to spent five hours in Target. I want to take peoples of people in Wal-Mart. I want to buy crossaints and muffins and pizza at Costco. I want to go to all my favorite college bars with my friends from home. I want to lay on the beach for eight hour straight. I want to see my nephews and my sister, Christy. I want to visit my family in Montana. I want to sit down and tell my grandma all about my year abroad. I want to drive around in my car for hours and hours and turn the music up really loud and roll all the windows down. I want to get my hair cut and colored and get a manicure and pedicure and have my eyebrows waxed. I want to have a wallet full of American bills and I want to pay tax again and use my debit card everywhere I go. I want to be a California girl again.

But I want to be a German girl, too. I want to stay in Munich. I want everyone that I love in Munich to stay here too. I want to sit at a shisha bar for six hours and laugh and gossip and take pictures. I want to go to beer festivals every season and dance to music that I can’t understand but love anyway. I want to spend every sunny Saturday in the English Gardens drinking beer and catching a Frisbee and singing along to Florian’s ukulele. I want to sing karaoke at Shamrock’s every Tuesday night. I want to eat Bavarian food and have sausages and leberkase available to me on every corner. I want to buy Bayern tickets and take trains to random German towns all over Bavaria. I want to drink Augustiner every day. I want to be German forever.

I’m completely torn between the two places. In the end, I am going home, that is just the way that it is and I am okay with that. but I am going to miss Munich so much. Not only will I miss all of the wonderful friends that I’ve made here but I’m going to miss the city and the culture, the food, the memories that I had while I was living here. Hell, I might even miss the kids. Haha. It’s all coming to end so much faster than I would like. I am going to be so sad to leave here. It really does feel impossible.

But, the good news is that I have a job lined up at home that I am 98% decided upon. Between the eight families that have contacted me about working for them, only two of them have really done any follow through. I’ve been discussing offers and options, back and forth, between both of them and I think that I am decided on the one that I want. They’ve offered me the better package and the most information concerning schedules, salaries, benefits, expectations, etc, etc. Plus, the one that I want is more reasonable as far as finances are concerned and it gives me more room to rebuild my life and get back on my feet. Also, it would mean that I would be living with my mom in Morro Bay and that I wouldn’t be going back to Monterey. I’ve been thinking about living there and in the end it’s more practical for me to live with my mom for the next phase of my life and then I can work towards moving back to Monterey with better financial results. Anyway, the job is great and if I decide to take it, I’ll give more details about it but for now, we’ll just leave it in a state of indecision. I should know by the end of the week what choice I will make once they give me official offers or employment that I can either turn down or accept. I will let you know, dear readers!

Speaking of being a nanny (or something of the sort), I had a lot of fun with the girls this past Friday while I was babysitting. We went to a playground after they came home from school and we played in the sunshine and put flowers in our hair. I’ve been teaching myself how to braid so I invented this whole new hairstyle on the spot and the girls each ended up with a super cool head of hair. Au pair Hezzah for the win!

DSC00052My little cuties


DSC00132 (2)

May 13, 2011

Super Nanny At Your Service

(Since Blogger has been acting like a freak for the last day or so and deleted this post, I am putting it up again. Danke.)

Image converted using ifftoany

I have been a nanny/babysitter/au-pair/what-have-you for ten years now. Since I was 14, people have been paying me to take care of their children. And, if you ask any of them, I do a damn good job. I have ten year olds that want to be my friend on Facebook because they list me in their Top 5 best friends. I have nine year olds who beg their parents to take me on their family vacations just because they will miss me too much when they’re gone. It’s a rough life, really. But somebody has to do it. And it might as well be me.

Some people think I’m crazy for wanting to go into yet another nanny position after the year that I’ve spent with the Frau and her two delightful children (okay, they really are cute some of the time!). And with a college degree and with my credentials, shouldn’t I want to have a career? Yeah, probably. And someday, I’ll do that. First, I want to go back to school and get even more credentials and make myself even more desirable and educated. But, while I’m making that plan, I’m going to keep nannying. And you know why? Because I like to do it, I love working with kids, and it’s really good money with great personal reward. So, with that being said, as I began job hunting for employment in California over the last few weeks, you better believe that I put out some nanny ads between my hometown, Morro Bay, and my dream-town, Monterey.

And damn, I’ve never had so many hits! One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight families have emailed me over the last week and a half, admitting their interest. I have sent my resume to all seven of them and have done extensive follow through with three. Two years ago when I was playing this same game, back when I was still in college and had never worked abroad, and was working solely off of local care experience, I got about two hits – one of which I ended up taking (out of reluctance at first, because of salary, but it ended up being the most heart-rewarding nanny job I’ve had thus far). A degree in education and a year abroad have definitely improved my standing as a potential nanny and I feel that I have the right credentials and experiences to be a big game player in the competitive nanny race that seems to grip central coast California. That makes me feel good because I have earned that standing.

I am very excited to have a job already set up when I return home. I didn’t want to have to deal with jet lag, visiting friends and family, reverse culture shock, possible depression (I will miss Munich so much!), and lack of money all while I was also searching for a job. It takes a huge load off of my shoulders to know that I am on that path and that my transition back into my California life will not be as stressful as I’d first thought it might be. You may not agree with me when I say that I am using my degree and my education when I work as a nanny but, trust me, I am. When you’ve studied child development as thoroughly as I have, parents like that and they want you for that reason. And I get real world practice and observation of the things that I studied. Therefore, I don’t feel like my working as a nanny for a few more years is a waste of my time or my degree.

It’s fulfilling and it’s what I want to do, it’s where my heart is when I think of work. It’s the most rewarding thing that I could do for myself and for a family in need. So, here’s to the final weeks of my job search, I hope it ends as well as it has begun!

May 11, 2011

An Ode to the Englischer Garten, German Churches, Good Friends, and the Eventual End of an Epic Adventure

It’s hard to believe that winter ever existed here in Munich. I’ve almost forgotten what it was like to brave the cold, snowy weather for nearly four months time. The weather, since early April, has been absolutely beautiful. It’s been warm, sometimes even hot, and the skies have been an endless blue. There have been a few rainy days but not many and even then, they are accompanied by thunderstorms and how can I complain about that? I love thunderstorms. One thing about spring that I don’t like – hay fever. Boo to sneezing and itchy, red eyes!

With this glorious weather, I’ve been able to spend a lot of time in the English Gardens, too, which, if you will remember, is my favorite place in Munich. I’ll find any and every excuse to ride my bike through there and lucky for me, I’ve had a lot of them lately because I couldn’t afford to buy a train ticket for May. So I’ve been riding my bike everywhere and I usually will use the EG as a peaceful passage between home and the city center. This, of course, is wonderful because of all of the beautiful trees and pathways and things to look at. I am still in awe of this park – I love it so much.

DSC09867I wish I could live here forever.

I’ve also been spending a lot of time with my friends at the EG, too. We’ll meet up on sunny Saturdays or even during the week if we’re available and we just lay out in the sun with books, guitars, beer, what have you. Sometimes I just take a book and go lay out by myself in the north end of the Gardens near my house. It’s ridiculously quiet and unpopulated and it kind of makes you feel small and insignificant in a really fantastic kind of way. I love it. Another thing that recently made me feel small and insignificant but with a grand gesture – the church at Ludwig Maximillian University. It was stunning. I hadn’t been into a church in Munich since the winter so it was extremely humbling to be reminded on their beauty and majesty.


I’ve been walking by this church for eleven months now and I don’t know WHY it never occurred to me to walk in. But last week, as I was waiting to meet Jennie, I thought, “What the hell?” and just wandered inside. A strange kind of fear came over me as I walked in, almost as if I were terrified of the massiveness of the church it self. A calm settled over me and I just stared in awe, completely transfixed. The church was so beautiful. Also, I’ve gotten into the habit of lighting candles for my mom whenever I walk into one. Thinking of you, ma!

I’ve been mentioning her a lot lately and yes, Jennie, is back in Munich! I first met her during our epic 22-hour trip to Neuschwanstein that she managed to narrowly escape. She went back to Canada in early September to finish law school and now she is back in Munich after eight months. It’s been nice having her back – I can’t wait until we start cooking and having fancy dinner parties at her sweet apartment. And all of the conversations! The two of us could talk all day long. And it’s good to have the girl back purely for her love for karaoke! She’s a karaoke fiend and that is always appreciated around these parts with how often we go to the karaoke bar. Also back to Munich after nearly three months of being away, is my darling Eric who I missed ever so much. Of course, all the regular cast members are still around and I’m loving every minute of my life here because of it. I have such wonderful friends – new and old – and I have been so blessed this year to have them!  And you want to know something really cool? Tiago is coming to visit me in California, less than a week after I get home! He’s one of my best friends here and it’s obvious that he can’t live without me. Haha. So I’m looking forward to showing him the sunny side of America and introducing him to my friends back home – which will be a weird transition. How do I blend one totally different part of my life with another? Of course, it’s effortless but I just can’t wrap my mind around it. Weird!

DSC09906Me and Tiago at a Studentstadt party, last Wednesday

I’ve been working a lot this spring – which I may have already mentioned – and although it can be frustrating for my social schedule, it’s still nice to be home every once in a while. I’ve been reading a lot and have made it through three or four books in the last month or two. I’ve challenged myself to read 25 books this year, before my 25th birthday and so far I’m at 20% progress. I’ve also been able to catch up on my blogs (thank God!) and do a little bit of job searching back home… which has been a huge success thus far but more on that later. ;) Also, I sleep a lot, spend a lot of time outside, Facebook more than I should, and spend more time with the girls that I care for (which isn’t always nice but we all have our bad days, right?). Hopefully I get to make the most of these last five weeks and that my host-mom and I don’t butt heads too much. It would definitely make for an interesting last few weeks if I had to stay in 4 to 5 nights every week. There’s not very much time left!

The reality is that I leave Munich for California on June 20th. I finish my au pair contract exactly five weeks from today. Five weeks ago from today, I was planning my trip to Rome with Brenna and was just getting over the excitement of Starkbierfest. That feels as if it were just days behind me – not five weeks. It’s hard to imagine that in two months I will be in California again. I can’t imagine going back to my old life. Of course, it will be different but I feel like I’ve changed so much, like I won’t fit inside of California anymore, like every part of me will just want to bust free and come back here. Ah, it’s going to be a hard transition, I won’t expect it to be easy. But, for now, I will enjoy every minute that it presented to me here and I will not think too much about what lies ahead on the other side of the world. It’s not a bad thing to go home but it’s not easy to walk away from this year abroad either. I am looking forward to being with my friends and family again but I know that I will ache for Munich and it will take a long time to stop missing the life that I lived here.

But, alas… the show must go on.

The 50 Most Important Landmarks of the World

I was Stumbling around this morning and came across this link – 50 of the world’s most important and well known landmarks. I was kind of disappointed in how many of them I haven’t actually heard of but was also surprised to find that I’ve been to a few of them! Not many… but I hadn’t seen any of them this time last year! Check out the link and comment, how many of these have you been to?

The 50 Most Important Landmarks of the World

I’ve been to…

bigbenBig Ben, London
January 2011

ludwigcastleNeuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria
August 2010

stpetersSt. Peter’s Basilica, Rome
April 2011

treviTrevi Fountain, Rome
April 2011

I’d love to travel to all of these landmarks someday, of course, but if I could pick five places to visit to see five of these landmarks, I’d choose:

tajmahalThe Taj Mahal, India

lochnessLochness, Scotland

brandenberggateBrandenburg Gate, Berlin

mountmichaelsMont St Michel, France

sagradafamiliaSagrada Familia, Barcelona

May 10, 2011

Frühlingsfest: Bavaria’s Spring Alternative to Oktoberfest

I don’t think I would love Bavaria as much as I do if it wasn’t home to so many wonderful beer festivals. I’ve been to a few since I’ve arrived here – Oktoberfest, obviously and Starkbierfest – both interesting and unique in their own special ways. Oktoberfest is world famous and is absolutely worth visiting at least once in your life if you are a beer enthusiast and can throw back a few liters of beer on any given day. Starkbierfest (which means strong beer in English) was unique in its merchandise – beer that is loaded with carbs and a lot of potential to get you really wasted. I was lucky enough to attend both of these beer festivals (sadly I never went to the Dachau Volksfest and will miss it this summer) and, even better, I was able to attend in my tracht wear (aka dirndl) – a traditional Bavarian dress!

This past weekend, I rocked my dirndl once again and headed out to join my friends for a day of beer and sunshine at this year’s Frühlingsfest celebration. I was expecting something along the lines of Oktoberfest size but I was met with a much smaller reality. Frühlingsfest boasts only two beer tents – Augustiner and Hippodrom – and takes up about 2/8 of the space that Oktoberfest occupied. (I only fully realized this when I was ascending the crest of the Wasserbahn (log ride) and could see the grounds of Theresienwiese laid out below us.) The festival includes a midway and carnival rides and tons and tons of delicious food and drink.

Upon arrival, my friends and I first decided to have a good old fashioned race down the massive slide. I was overconfident that I would win and definitely did not. My fellow American friend, Dieter, managed to beat both Jennie and I in a race back to ground level. This carnival slide was very sophisticated – with nine slide lanes, furry bottomed slide blankets, and an escalator that took you to the top. German’s are so efficient!

228285_873067877812_109450_42593253_7343098_nDieter in the lead, me taking second place, and Jennie taking up the rear.

May 9, 2011

Garmisch, Again and the Blessed Comfort of Family in a Far Away Place

This blog can’t keep up with real life! I am not giving it any justice. I have so many things I want to write about and then I find that I have all the time in the world to write it down but I just… don’t. I get distracted. I get going on StumbleUpon. I start  chatting on FB. I pick up my book. I clean my bathroom. Seriously. I scrub the toilet instead. It’s pathetic. Anyway, I’m going to start with my recent trip down to Garmisch-Partenkirchen where I visited my Quasi-Mom, Christina, and my German Oma, Kathe for the weekend.

In case you missed the memo the first few times that I talked about it  – everyone in Christina’s family is pretty much mine, too. Neither one of us would have ever guessed that back in the fall of 2007, when she hired me to work at her candle store, that 3 1/2 years later, I would be hanging out with every member of her family in their motherland. I worked for Christina as both a candle store employee and as the babysitter for her adorable grand-daughter, Andrea, up until the summer of last year and became extremely close to her in the process. Christina and her husband, Barrie, have been like surrogate parents to me while I was living away from home and going to school and they have gone out of their way most of the time to take care of me. (Thank you for all of the tire changes, broken car door repairs, and home-cooked meals!) They’re wonderful! Christina’s older sister, Susie, I met through the family (she visited me in Munich during Oktoberfest!) as well and their mother, Kathe, who I met whenever she was staying in California and then, formally, after I’d found out that I would be going to Germany. More recently, I’ve become friends with Christina’s son, Dustin, as well, because he visited Munich back in February. I feel like he’s my big brother now, I love it! And, of course, there’s Drea in there, too. I’m her “Hairy” and I find myself missing her, too! Needless to say, I have been incredibly blessed with the comforts and consolation of family while I’ve been here in Europe and I couldn’t imagine how my experience here would have been different had that touch of familiarity been absent.

With that being said, Kathe lives here in Bavaria, in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, so I have been visiting her a lot since I’ve arrived here in Germany. I now have pictures of Garmisch through the seasons. It’s been really cool, this little town is so beautiful and it has so much stuff to do and look at. This time around, however, I went there to see Christina who I hadn’t seen since I’d left California last June. Kathe and Christina picked me up at my house, met my host-mom and the girls, and then we drove from Munich to G-Pa, which was about an hour’s drive. It was nice to catch up with her gossip a little bit, which we’re soooo good at. When we got to Garmisch, we stopped first at the commissary, since Kathe works for the Army. I stocked up on American goodies – macaroni and cheese, blueberry bagels, Ranch dressing, French’s mustard, an industrial size bottle of Treseme conditioner, Ruffles Sour Cream and Onion potato chips. Oh man, I love cheating on German culture sometimes! After our shopping excursion, Christina and I went into the heart of the city and had a delicious Bavarian dinner – schnitzel for everyone (I ate mine and half of hers! D’oh!) – and we had beers and walked home. It was a beautiful twilight!

DSC09792Garmisch-Partenkirchen after dark

Back at Kathe’s house we had a Skype video call with Barrie, Dustin, and Andrea and we all got an earful from that little chatterbox. She is getting so big and is talking so much since the last time that I saw her and I couldn’t stop laughing at the cute things that just came out of her mouth. It’ll be nice to play with her again – I hope she’s missing me! It was nice to see Barrie and Dustin, too, of course. We all went to bed after that and woke up slowly in the morning. After breakfast Christina and I decided to go to Ludwig’s Schloss Linderhof. I’ve been to nearly all of King Ludwig’s castles now! I feel accomplished. Linderhof was beautiful – and it’s the only castle that he ever fully completed (and it’s one of the smallest!). He didn’t even finish the Disney castle. Linderhof comes with Ludwig’s grotto and so that was really interesting to see. It’s the largest man-made cave in Europe, by the way. It was raining and it was a bit cold but I enjoyed the scenery and the castle itself and Christina and I had fun just hanging out, the two of us.

DSC09804Mountain scenery from the path to Linderhof
I absolutely love this country! How can I ever leave?!

DSC09806Schloss Linderhof

DSC09813The view from the front side of Linderhof

DSC09810Me with Neptune’s fountain

DSC09831Painting in the grotto where Ludwig present Wagner’s opera

DSC09835The castle, down below

We finished touring Linderhof and were back in G-Pa by 3 o’clock so we decided to walk into the city and check out the street market that was going on. The walk to the city is picturesque and there is a little field with about six sheep in it and they wear cow bells on their necks so you always know if they’re coming. We would stop and talk to them, pet them, and feed them dandelions. They were adorable! The market itself was so cute – very small town German and just adorable. And so many good aromas coming from all that delicious food. Christina and I ended up eating the 1/2 meter bratwursts and taste testing all kinds of yummy foods. It was a good way to pass through the afternoon and once we return home – we made a plan to send me back to Munich and Christina took me to the train station. We said our good-byes and then I settled in for the 90 minute train ride back into the city. I read my book the entire time (I’m in love with Lisa Gardner’s thrillers!) and snacked on all of my guilty pleasure American food the whole time!

Ultimately, it was a great weekend in Garmisch and I had so much fun with Christina – I really had missed her a lot and I can’t wait to spend more time with her once I’m back in California NEXT MONTH. Geez. It’s gone by so fast. Holy cow.

Next up on my blog-frenzy-agenda…

  • The joys of spring and all that it brings – beer festivals, warm weather, sunburns, hay fever, bugs, an over abundance of work, and all kinds of other stuff.
  • My job hunt back in California and how awesome I am as the future Mary Poppins.
  • Books, books, books… and my literary goal!
  • Resuming my “52 Things in Munich” bucket list – I’m so behind!
  • My thoughts and reflections on the last six weeks of the best year of my life. Can I even put it into words?!

DSC00122This (not so) new German girl is finding out that
home really is where the heart is.