Friday, November 29, 2013

How to celebrate Thanksgiving in Germany

Happy belated Thanksgiving! I hope all of you had great food and celebrated this special day with your loved ones!?
We sure missed our family and friends in New York, Massachusetts, Maryland (…) and it was really weird to not have a big eating-fest with the whole family.

However, since the 4th of July, this is the first time Nick has more than a 2-day weekend off. So we have plenty of reason to celebrate and be happy.

I'm sure you are dying to know what we ate, so I'm telling you right away that no turkey was eaten. Not even a chicken. Or any other bird for that matter.

Although, I am proud to announce that there was a pie! Which, I think, counts as perfectly appropriate Thanksgiving food.

Apple Pie and rolls for breakfast!

Since we are in Germany after all, we didn't want to go through the hassle of trying to find foods or cooking tools that are hard or impossible to come by here and rather relax and enjoy the day. This included eating what is available and what we like best!

First we went to a Christmas market!

We are a bit spoiled from last year, when we went to Cologne and had the best time at one of the prettiest Christmas markets I've ever been to. However, this one was really cool, too!! They even had a wine bar with a reindeer above the entrance! Never pass the opportunity to take a stupid picture with a reindeer head. 

They also had plenty of great smelling foods!

- but we decided to have Glühwein with a shot of rum instead.

How can you not enjoy being at a place like this, drinking (very) hot, christmassy-spiced red wine, walking between the pretty little shops, and looking at the various hand-crafted things people are selling?!

For dinner, we went to our favorite place!

Döner and Lamachun! Happy Thanksgiving!

After that, we just went home and rented Iron Man 3 on DVD. 

Lucy wanted to watch the movie with us, but she is not allowed on the couch. So she tried to snuggle up as close as she could. She was so cuddly and loved us very much last night…

… which may have had something to do with the fact that we were snacking on some venison that we bought at the Christmas market. 

You should all go and try some of this!

However, I chose to believe that she was just happy to hang out with us and no ulterior motive was involved.

Have a great Friday and if you are out shopping - be safe!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Running Update and Christmas is Near!

Just in case you were wondering, I didn't forget about my blog.
I was quite busy with very important adult things: work, cleaning the apartment, more work, laundry, even more work… and every time I got to the blog, I was so tired that nothing good came out of it.
I'm not saying that this is going to be good, however, I will do my best to at least finish the sentences and write readable words.

So, you all know that I ran for the first time in Dresden and I couldn't be happier about it. Still, one week after, there has not been another run.
I've decided to take it as slow as I have to (or possibly can), since my knee has been acting up for the days following my treadmill-adventure. Baby steps.


If you have ever had a stress fracture, please share your thoughts with me. How long did it take you to get back into running? Do you feel like it healed completely? Or can you still feel it after a hard workout? I'm getting really impatient.

To distract myself with beautiful and happy things, and because we are a little crazy, Nick and I went all out (as much as we can) with our Christmas decoration.

You see, I am not one of those people who get disturbed by the early(ish) Christmas mood. If you sell chocolate Santas at your store right next to Halloween candy - that's fine with me. Who would complain about a great variety in sugary treats?! Plus, the worst thing that could happen to me is Christmas sneaking up on me, leaving me unprepared, or taking days away from this great time of the year. I'm a fan of the cold, the Christmas markets, mandarins, hot teas, and thinking about what I could get for family and friends that would make them happy.

I wish I could have a blinking Elmo on our balcony!

Thankfully, I am not alone with my excitement for the big day. When Nick and I were on the bus back from Dresden, we already decided that even if we are going to be here for only a year, we will still decorate.

So on Saturday, inspired by the grocery shopping trip, we continued our tour through stores around town in order to find the right things to illuminate our balcony - and we were successful!
Our outside space is really small, but we found something that is bright, but (hopefully) not too distracting for people who are driving by.

Guess where we live!

I know, I know. The rule in Germany is, not to decorate for Christmas until "Ewigkeitssonntag" (Eternity Sunday), the Sunday before the first of advent. Which was the day after we got our decorations. We just couldn't resist and in our defense, we almost made it and were only 12 hrs early. Which is less than a day. So we were kind of just in time.

While Nick secured these glowing embellishments to the outside of the apartment, I took care of the inside.

We don't have much to work with here, since whatever we buy here has to fit in a suitcase when we fly back. 

But we worked with what we had and now Christmas can come.

In a few weeks.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Letting you in on a secret and Getting yelled at (again) - or: Dresden Part II

Our one full vacation day was probably my most favorite day ever.

I got up bright and early to test the gym at the hotel - and let me tell you, right after the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet, it was probably my favorite thing there. They had the nicest machines and each one had it's own TV with about 50 channels!

I'm going to let you in on a secret: I did not only go to the gym to do my regular bike/ weights routine.

I ran.

I went on the treadmill after my workout and ran for a whole mile.

It was amazing.

That's all I can say for now.

Right after, we went for my all time favorite and absolutely amazing breakfast and Nick surprised me with an appointment he had scheduled for me at the hotel spa to get a massage! AAAAH!

I was already excited about this
fancy spa-water with cucumber and lemon!

Seriously, at that point, the day was already going beyond anything I could ever hope for. Running, bottomless breakfast, and a massage?! All within one morning?! That's just incredible!

Unfortunately, I looked like an idiot for a little while, with the towel imprints from the massage table…

At noon, after the imprints had faded, we headed out to visit some of the museums in the area.

So pretty!

The museums were all in these buildings.

Look at those bells! And they worked!!

Here is where things took some sort of slight turn - away from the sweet and wonderful morning. We wanted to see two museums: the physics and mathematics museum and the old gallery.

When we bought the tickets, the very nice lady at the register informed us that we could get a combo-ticket that was much cheaper and included those two museums we wanted to visit, plus the porcelain museum. We didn't want to see the porcelain. Nothing against plates and vases, but we just wanted to spend the time looking at other things.

Since it was very cold out and the museums all seemed connected, we were hoping to use our extra ticket for those vases to cut through that part of the building to get to the mathematics and physics exhibition. 

Unfortunately, by the time the lady at the entrance to the porcelain told us that that wasn't possible, she had already scanned us in. When she realized that we were going to just walk out again, she was not pleased about us not wanting to see the pretty dishes and vases. So we did what everyone else would do and walked in just to calm her down - and to see if she was wrong and if there actually was a way to cut through the porcelain museum.

For about 5 minutes, it was actually pretty cool. Then, I accidentally walked too close to one of the porcelain peacocks or teapots and set off the alarm.

So that was fun!

We pretended nothing happened in hopes that people would stop staring.

I even took a few pictures, because we thought that the porcelain animals were really neat. The bear was Nick's favorite, so I wanted to make sure to get a picture of that, too…

… then someone yelled across the big hall to put my camera down, because taking pictures was strictly forbidden. (Has anyone ever yelled at you at a museum?! The sound of the words bounces off those walls and I'm pretty sure the porcelain dishes were shaking.)

Within the 7 minutes of going in there, I got yelled at twice and triggered an alarm.

We will never be able to go there again.

For your own safety, I am not posting the pictures I snapped before everything went downhill.
But here is a picture of the museum from the outside.

See all those plates and vases behind the windows?!
The other two museums were very nice!
For my literary research, I have worked on pieces that relate to astronomical studies in the late 18th century, so seeing all those instruments was really cool.

This one was definitely my favorite.
They also had a creepy drumming bear-alarm (alarm-bear?!). His eyes were moving, too. I can see how this will make you jump out of bed and run for your life!

At the gallery, taking photographs was not allowed either. This time, however, I knew about it beforehand. No yelling. We might go back again some time!

The gallery is in this building.

We proceeded to the recently rebuilt "Church of Our Lady" (Frauenkirche), which was probably one of my favorite buildings there. In 1945, when Dresden was attacked and completely leveled, the church was destroyed in the bombing. The site remained in ruins for many decades and 60 years later, in 2005, the reconstruction was completed.

The dark bricks you see are original remains that were reused.

Nick and I even walked all the way to the top and were able to enjoy the most wonderful view of the city.

OMG I'm gonna fall down!!!

I should mention that I am deathly afraid of heights. So in my head, I was preparing myself to die any second the entire time we were up there.

Back at the hotel, we went for the shortest swim in the history of mankind. When we got there, the pool was empty. There was just us and two other people. Within 3 minutes, the place filled up so much that there was no more room in the water. So we left and figured we should just do what we do best: eat!

For dinner, we went to a really cool tapas place. If you ever go to Dresden, you should definitely check it out! I promise I will remember the name by then.

We were determined to get gelato for dessert right next door to the restaurant, but they seriously closed 2 minutes before we got there. Rude!

The best way to deal with devastating situations like this is to walk through the entire city and find another place with largest dessert portions.

Oh yea, and you know where we found those cakes and giant ice cream scoops?! At a place where every other customer was about 70 years older than us! I'm not even kidding. That café was incredible and those old people didn't mess around with their dessert. We both had to fight really hard to finish what we ordered.

They also had the most interesting decoration there.

Of course, the humungous (and very colorful!) chandelier that was hanging right in front of our face was made out of porcelain. This time, however, nobody yelled at me for taking pictures.

This post has now officially exceeded any acceptable length.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, November 18, 2013

It has come this far and my most important skill - or: Dresden Part I

Disclaimer: Be prepared for a picture overload!

Our bus to Dresden left on Friday just around noon and let me tell you, we were so excited that we almost kinda forgot our coffee at home!!! We were already at the first bus stop, waiting for our city-bus to take us to the central bus station, when we realized that we left our thermos mugs on the kitchen counter.
No trip is being taken without coffee, so Nick ran as fast as he could and saved our lives. Right after he had left, I realized that the city-bus was scheduled to come within the next 5 minutes. Trust me, I was so relieved when I saw Nick coming back and could be sure that I didn't have to go to Dresden by myself! :o)

We got on the first bus, made it to the second, and off we went!

Since having your mouth open makes everyone look awesome,
always try to talk as much as you can while taking a picture.

We caught the best seat on the bus.

Taking selfless is a serious matter.

Yay for caffeine to go!

Being my normal OCD self, I had already cleaned (and re-cleaned) the apartment in the morning and was exhausted and starving by the time we got on the bus.

Luckily, I had also prepared things to eat on the bus. Nick was really thrilled to see that it has already come this far with me and I am now one of "those" people who bring hard boiled eggs on a bus ride (in addition to sandwiches, bananas, mandarins, granola bars, gummy candy, chewy candy…).

Nothing wrong with being a little healthy.

Even the bus driver had snacks for us!

Most of the ride looked like this. 

We made it to the hotel just in time before the sun went down.

Our room was AMAZING. Who am I kidding, the entire hotel was terrific. You know you are in the right place when you are greeted with chocolate...

… and fresh fruit!

This was the view from our window! 

When staying at a hotel, it is important to check if there is shampoo and things in the bathroom!

I really hate having conditioner that doesn't come out of the little squeeze bottle. There have been plenty of times when I had random battles with uncooperative conditioner in the shower - and I may or may not have scars to prove it. 

This kind, however, was terrific and I'm happy to report that I had no issues washing my hair! 

I'm sure you noticed that I took these very special vacation pictures with an actual camera and not with my phone.

This is what it looked like when you walked in. 

I probably took 45 pictures just of the room. However, I'll spare you the whole slideshow. 

I was thinking about just laying in bed for the two days,
because this was my view.

Since 3pm is a little early for dinner, we walked around and went to a wine tasting.

On our walk, we saw this statue of an ugly, fat little angel (boy ?).

You gotta take a picture of that.

Or two.

No pictures of the wine tasting. I was busy.

It was a lot of fun, though! We were the only two people there and the guy there was very generous with the servings he gave us.

(Note to self: eat more sandwiches before you taste 10 different wines.)

Right after this impromptu drinking fest, we went out for dinner. One of the things I miss having in restaurants here are salad bars! Oh, Ruby Tuesday's and all you other all-you-can-eat salad places, I will be back soon - so be prepared!

Thankfully, we found a place that in fact did have a salad bar! You could only go once (rude!), which meant that I had to pull my salad-piling skill out of my sleeve.

This is probably one of my greatest talents and I am thinking about putting it on my resume. Give me any salad bar, I will put enough on the smallest plate to feed an entire family and their neighbors.

I am still telling myself that the people at the table text to us were staring in awe and not to be rude…

The baked potato with salmon and "Kräuterquark" (quark with herbs) was so good and made me feel a lot better after the hard work of tasting all those wines.

I don't want to forget to mention the bar we went to right after.
The waiter we had was one of the funniest and nicest waiters we've had here in Germany so far. He even brought a big pile of peanuts for us to snack on (because the humungous dinner wasn't enough).

Needless to say, we had to fill out a customer satisfaction report.

Please ignore the two glasses of wine in front of me.

The next bar was an Australian (?) bar. I'm not sure. I was really tired.
However, their snacks were great and they had a guy singing and playing the keyboard and he totally made our night.

This is probably my favorite picture of that day.
More tomorrow.

Happy Monday!