Friday, October 31, 2008


I cannot believe how fast halloween has crept up. Unfortunately I didn't even get a pumpkin to carve until today. Stefan loves carving pumpkins and I love seeing his inner child get so enthusiastic about it. He didn't carve a pumpkin until he was in college, since it's not a widely celebrated holiday in Germany.

Since I love doing little theme nights I made some finger cookies to enjoy and surprise Stefan with. I had 5 trick-or-treaters, but I was still baking the cookies so I was unable to surprise them. I did however have candies from American for them, which they definitely didn't expect. Their costumes weren't as theatrical as they are in America, but they wore face paints, wigs, and tattered clothes. I was happy just to see some Halloween spirit.

I put several movies out for Stefan to decide that we would watch when he came home. It was Charlie Brown's great pumpkin and Tim Burton's Nightmare before Christmas to enjoy as we ate fresh pasta.

We also had carmel apple dip and plenty of candy with our finger cookies. I only wish we had more trick-or-treaters!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dark Past

I always seem to meet really fascinating people on my tours. Yesterday was no different and I met 13 people from America, Israel, Ireland, Scotland, and Russia.

During the train ride to Salzburg people typically want to talk and learn more about why I am in Germany and my perceptions of things here. After everyone got settled I sat down and then the man from Israel came to sit with me. He had planned his trip to Munich for a couple of years and he had a very structured plan. He had come to see the buildings that played a critical role in Germany's dark past - the Third Reich.

While there are tours that cater to this type of thing, they don't go into nearly as much detail as he did. I really started to consider the things that he was saying. First, he felt that Munich had not done enough to designate what happened where. He continually said that if the history is forgotten he fears that it could happen again or that people will say it never happened.

There are no signs denoting where Hitler and his associates lived. I can understand that it's a fine line for Germany - they don't want to publicize places for neo-nazi types, but in some regards there are places that are easily overlooked, like Dodger's Alley on Drückebergergasse. This alley was used by people who did not want to give the nazi salute before entering Odeonsplatz. And at the university the bronzed leaflets from the White Rose movement could also be easily overlooked. I tried to tell him of places that I knew around the city that he had not yet visited, like Dodger's Alley.

Even though his parents are Egyptian he feels a strong connection to the Holocaust. I definitely like to notice the happier times of Munich, however I do know this dark cloud looms over the city.

He repeatedly told me he wasn't here to blame the people and that he realizes the people three generations later aren't responsible for the atrocities. What surprised him most was that once he arrived to Prinzregentenplatz he asked people passing by which house was Hitler's and no one could answer, so he stopped at the police station to ask and discovered that was the house at Prinzregentenplatz 16. He also obtained special permission to look at the bunker underneath and showed me his photos.

As we were talking there were some interesting things to consider. What happened to the property - who lives in these homes now? Was it passed down within families? Is some of Munich's current wealth because of the wealth of the National Socialism party?

I will fully admit that I know there are places that I often pass that played a crucial role in the Third Reich movement. I think it's a hard reality for people to face, which is part of the reason Germans seem to lack patriotism - you rarely see flags flying. It's obviously a sensitive topic.

When I met Johanna, the friend of the visiting German professor, we were talking and surprisingly she brought it up. She said when she was a young girl and people were very destitute and hungry that they viewed Hitler as their bread and butter. He was creating jobs for people like her father, who went to Berlin to pave streets for the autobahn. Little did they know he had ulterior plan.

The train ride back from Salzburg consisted of a lot of discussion regarding the state of the world and the upcoming election.

I really appreciate being able to interact with people from around the world and learn about their views and reasoning. Every day is something new, occasionally exciting, and eye opening.

I love learning from other people's life experiences, although I wish there weren't so many tragic events to learn from.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Surprise for MB

My lovely friend Mary Beth was supposed to come to Oktoberfest this year, and unfortunately due to a job change and needing to survive in NYC, she wasn't able to make it. She, Lauren, and I had the time of our life together in Ireland for St. Patrick's Day over 5 years ago, so I was really looking forward to continuing our European fun together in celebrating here.

Even though she couldn't be with us we most definitely didn't forget her! I assembled a care package complete with homemade spiced nuts, Fürst champagne truffles from Salzburg, my favorite gummy candies (including the spicy chili peppers), a Wies'n lebkuchen heart, some Bavarian decor, an Oktoberfest t-shirt and CD, and of course some knödels and a pretzel.

This was over a month ago - September 22nd to be exact. Today is MB's birthday and I was seriously hoping she'd have it by now. Deutsche Post loves to test my patience. Shortly after Stefan and I got married we had a package that never arrived... filled with our marriage license!!, my makeup brushes, and Oreos. My parents could tell it made it to Germany, but it never made it to us. It looks like her package is undergoing a similar twist of fate.

We had plenty of beers and oodles of spätzel in her honor. It looks like someone else is now celebrating Oktoberfest in hers.

Happy Birthday Mary Beth!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bayern game

One of the few perks of having a husband that travels a lot is that he gets special ways to enjoy his free time. My in laws came to town and we were able to show them our new car and then go to the Bayern Munich game. We had terrific seats on the field courtesy of Lufthansa.

The game was exciting and they expectantly won against the Wolfsburg Wolves with a score of 4:2. The beginning of the game was a bit intense, but Bayern came back.

The fan section was right near us and it reminded me of the college basketball games at my university. The people were very rowdy and added to the spirit. I was surprised how small many of the players are. Stefan pointed one out that was the same height as he is and he looked massive compared to everyone else.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Today we went to Ingostadt to pick up our new Audi. It was quite a production and they really went above and beyond to cater to our every whim. Even little details like a bottle of water were placed in the lone cup holder, and they took our photo with the new car and presented it to us minutes later.

We started with a tour of the museum, which housed a large range of cars. My favorites are always the concept cars where there is more attention paid to details and they are more unique.

We even saw the car from the Will Smith movie iRobot. It looked very sophisticated and high tech. I can't even imagine what people would think if they saw that driving down the street. According to our dealer it's not so sophisticated underneath.

Stefan was so excited to get our car that we chose to have lunch, then pick up our car, and finally go on the factory tour.

Our names came up on the screen and we were slightly surprised to also see Bayern Munich's own Lukas Podolski and Prof. Dr. Fritz Scherer - both from Bayern Munich. It appears they were also getting new cars today.

After being taught exactly how to work the car we were allowed to drive it out of the show room and park it among a sea of Audis that others had picked up. We commented on how well ours stood out among the rest and how beautiful it was. I figure it's similar to looking at babies in a nursery and knowing yours is the most precious.

What surprised me a little bit, after going on the Porsche tour in March, was that Audi does so much with machines. Stefan and I stood in awe and wonderment of how these machines work and who exactly designs them or puts them together. One was capable of creating as much pressure as 120,000 people jumping at once. This machine is what they use to press the steel / aluminum to create various parts. They said it's similar to an earth quake and had to be stabilized 60 meters underground. The Ingostadt factory is the same size as Monaco and has as many workers as Monaco has people.

Each machine strategically punched holes into things and lifted the various heavy car parts. I was quickly reminded why I hate sci-fi things... they scare me. It's intimidating to see what people are capable of creating. It makes sense that cars are expensive after the tell you about a multibillion Euro machine. They also said it takes 4 billion euros to research and develop a new car. I can't really comprehend that.

My favorite area is inevitably the color. Our guide even said a German singer had visited and asked them to match a shade of nail polish for her car color and they happily obliged. We went with the more traditional 'lava gray', which Stefan kindly allowed me to pick.

After a long Audi filled day the car dealer called and asked us to stop by to show him the car on the way home. He gave Stefan a nice pen set. I'm sure they are hoping to make life long Audi customers out of us.

I have to say the Porsche tour was more impressive because we could see people making the cars and the production wasn't as immense. I'm sure that would make my Dad proud. Regardless, we are very happy with the new addition to our family.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


It's really nice to be back after six days away. I'm trying to remember everything, but fortunately I also kept some notes and plenty of pictures to help.

We had a wonderful time and excellent weather up until the last day, but even then that didn't ruin our trip. All I had to do was think back to the flight in, over the Alps, and all of the snow, to know that I was very fortunate to enjoy the last days of summer weather with beaches close by.

The beaches were a bit littered, but I appreciated being able to sit by the crashing waves and admire the sand. The detail of many of the shells makes me in complete awe of nature. I even found a few pieces of beautiful sea glass.

There was plenty of shopping and laughter with the girls. I must say that I love shopping in Spain - they use more color and have really beautiful jewelry. That was my biggest weakness through the trip. I'm very partial in my jewelry choices and only like genuine stones and metals. While that may not sound too difficult to find, believe me - it is... until you go to Spain.

The girls biggest weakness was staying out late. That really made me feel old since I simply could no longer hack it. They got the biggest kick out of the late night antics and various drinks, which was funny. We had a great time meeting Catherine's welcoming friends - everyone was so incredibly nice.

Catherine has been living with a family since January and it has certainly been trying at times. One thing that really made me laugh is that Silvia, the mother, taught her how to dance like the flamenco dancers from her hometown of Granada. She said they learn by thinking of grabbing an apple, twisting it off the tree, and tossing it away. I was hysterically laughing as Catherine demonstrated, and when it didn't fit the song she would say, 'No, it's not ripe yet.'

A few small things that caught me off guard were seeing a DJ with an I love NY t-shirt, the amount of people we seemed to encounter from Argentina, and how content so many people seemed to never leave the island - not even to travel.

Uniquely Spanish things I observed include the yellow glow of street lights, metal garage doors covering store fronts, palm trees, limestone, and a laid back attitude about life.

Not everyone appears to be happy about being part of Spain. We encountered several 'Mallorca is not Spain' graffiti writings around town. Catherine's friend Vicky told us some of the people from the island would rather do things their own way, which doesn't seem like it would be changing anytime soon. I also saw some interesting things that reminded me of Basquiat's work.

One distinct difference between Spain and Mallorca were the windmills. They weren't unique to Palma and dotted the entire island. Some were more rustic in appearance, but they were all so striking.

We were also very happy to eat delicious local tapas and pastries. Traditional Majorcan dishes include manchego cheese, Pa Amb'Oli (Mallorquin tomato bread), olives, and many pork based sausages. I didn't try any of the meats, but the cheeses, breads, and fresh ingredients were great.

I am seriously still thinking about the delicious foods. As always, I also purchased some exotic salts. One is black salt, and the others are limited edition (lemon+lavender and orange+chili) from a local company called Flor de Sal D'es Trenc. They have beautiful packaging which never hurts.

Mallorca really had some surprises for me. I have always heard that it is heavily visited by Germans, however I didn't expect to occasionally wonder if I had stumbled upon some tropical piece of Germany. We didn't even visit the German area of Palma. The only dead give away we were in Spain was the Spanish architecture.

Dominating the sky line was the cathedral. I loved seeing the city from above because there were some amazing roof gardens - including one with a beautiful pool.

The cathedral is Palma's main land mark. It is enormous, beautiful, and originally built on the grounds of an Arab mosque. Whenever I see enormous and lasting structures like this I cannot believe that people were capable of building with such sophistication when they didn't have modern machinery.

I could not believe how large the cathedral was. It was surrounded by city walls, which were also immense. There is so much to see from every angle.

The chapel to St. Peter by Miquel Barceló is very stunning. I was also in love with the stained glass windows, particularly the one in the main chapel ('Capilla Real'- Royal Chapel).

I went as soon as it opened and was immediately struck by the bright colored circles that were cast on the back wall and floor. Someone definitely got things right when they were designing that.

We sat outside the cathedral enjoying the sun when I noticed tons of lizards scampering around the limestone walls. Not only were they climbing on it, but we also watched several go inside the small cracks. Catherine later told us there is an entire island off the coast of Mallorca called Dragonera. If I ever make it back I would like to visit.

I was very excited to see more of Gaudi's stunning work as well. He has several buildings through out the city and an enormous chandelier in the cathedral before he grew angry and left Palma. Thankfully not all was lost and he created wonderful things in Barcelona.

Following Gaudi's organic influence was a striking and apparently very old olive tree in the middle of town. I loved all of the curving lines and it's unique form. I never saw a tree like it.

The palm trees and bright colors along the streets also added to the ambiance. We walked around the city center and the narrow winding streets around the cathedral and continually found beautiful things. There were plenty of shops surrounding the area that also sold jewelry and the famed Mallorcan pearls.

We visited Porto Cristo (home to Rafa Nadal, the number one tennis player in the world) and the Cuevas del Drach (caves) on the East side of the island.

The caves were unbelievable. They are said to be 15-20 million years old. Unreal. After walking through and admiring the beauty of nature we enjoyed a unique classical concert played by people in boats. When the concert had ended we went on a small boat trip across one of the largest subterranean lakes in the world.

Plans changed quite a bit after we missed several buses due to imbibing a lot of sangria and sharing great conversation and laughs. Since the night was still young we decided to go out once we arrived back in Palma. Cat wanted us to try a traditional drink called Gin Xoriguer Mahon, unfortunately it's only sold by the bottle. It was a lot better than I expected, but an early evening for me.

The restaurants were quite good. Here's a synopsis of my favorites if you head to Palma...

Food + Drinks

Cappuccino- an upscale cafe chain with wonderful sandwiches, coffees, and thick drinking chocolate. It's a great place to pick up a quick bite to eat.

Tanto Amore - Fabrica 10. One of the best stone fired pizzas I've ever eaten. I'm still thinking about it. I also ate some of Catherine's calzone and it was equally delicious. 

El Boxto - Carrer de Velázquez 14. A fun concept where you have a beer tap in the middle of the table and it displays how much your table drinks on a screen. The tapas are fantastic and it's really inexpensive for the quality of food and entertainment factors.

Wineing - Apuntadores 24. A wonderful place for wine tasting. You receive a card when you enter and then can try a sample, half glass, or full glass, all while keeping tab on your card. The machine measures things out for you.

Churros con chocolate - This is usually available at many places around Christmas, but we were able to find several cafes that still served the traditional dessert.

Ca na Chinchilla Sa Botiga - Carrer Dameto 11. A speciality shop with wines, cheeses, salts, and olive oils.

Colmado La Montaña - Carrer Jaume II, 27. A small shop specializing in salts, meats, and cheeses that are local to the area. They also had the cheapest prices on Mallorcan salts.

If you want to bring back any alcohol I highly recommend waiting to purchase it at the airport so you can carry it on. I brought Stefan back some of the Gin Xoriguer Mahon this way.


Zapping - Pas d'en Quint 1. A boutique store with beautiful and unique clothing at reasonable prices. 

Natural Mente - Carre Palau Reial 3. A natural shop selling beads, shells, and natural decorations. They also state the items in their store are responsibly harvested and legal to take home.

Jewelry - Edmund Arnold Joyero. Pas den Quint 4. I bought turquoise and coral necklaces at the shop across from Zapping. They have authentic stones and metals, but classic and simple pieces.

For my quintessential children's book I bought it in the book store at the back of the tourist information office at Passeig del Born, 27.

Locals Suggestions
Unfortunately we didn't make it to the following... hopefully next time.

Ummo- Carrer de Sant Magí 66. Upscale and unique dishes. Catherine has been before and she and her friends raved about it.

Beaches - locals highly recommended visiting Cala D'Eia (a rocky beach) and Son Serra De Camprina and Sa Ràpita. (I hope I spelled these right... I was copying from his handwriting).

Dragonera - the Dragon island off the West coast. From the images I saw the island and beaches are very beautiful. 

Friday, October 17, 2008


I wrote about going to Majorca / Mallorca back in January, and finally I'll be going!

I don't know what to expect in terms of the weather, but a beach is a beach and I am certain I will love it.

The real reason I am going is not to visit the beach, but to see a friend of mine who will be living there for a few more months. Jess, another friend who is living in Geneva, will also be visiting, which is exciting. I'm really looking forward to seeing the girls.

You can expect plenty of pictures upon my return late next week. I'm very excited about the Cathedral that has touches from one of my favorites - Gaudí.

If you'd like to see some photos from Mallorca before I am back, check out Mallorca Daily Photo.

Until then I will definitely load up on enough tapas and sangria for all of us.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Allianz Arena VIP Tour

Stefan collected on his anniversary surprise today. We went to the arena for their 'VIP tour' and there were several differences from the tour I went on in August.

The only unfortunate aspect is that the Bayern München team is getting a new more neutral toned locker room and therefore that area was closed.

Some of the differences were that we went to more exclusive areas of the arena and were allowed onto to the field. We also used elevators rather than steps. I guess VIPs can't even be bothered to walk. This tour also ended with a glass of prosecco in the restaurant.

It caught Stefan off guard, but our tour guide asked him to sit at the press table and then proceeded to conduct an interview as if Stefan was Jürgen Klinsmann. I was sitting in the audience and the woman next to me, who knew he was my husband, said 'he's really good at this!' It was funny, but I realize he is a really good public speaker.

We both had a great time and I was excited to be able to watch him visit the field of his favorite soccer team. I could tell he would have put some cleats on and started to play if given the option.