Confuzzledom

Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


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The Snail Mail Collective: Being Thankful

November was actually the second time that I took part in the Snail Mail Collective with the The Nectar Collective and Lost in Travels Blog. Sadly, I never actually received my package from the October collective… but I had so much fun chatting to my partner and collecting things to send her that I decided to do it again anywhere. My partner was for November Judith, an American currently living in Japan, where she works teaching English. You  really and check out her blog, Like Some Cat from Japan, where she posts about life in Japan, teaching English and her travels in Asia, among other things. Judith is lovely so get on over there and say hi!

Yesterday, I got a little card to say I had something waiting for me at the post office, so I stopped by there after work today and found my Snail Mail Collective gift waiting for me. Hooray! November’s theme was “What are you (the sender) thankful for”, and this is what Judith sent me:

Snail Mail

That is a face mask, some Pcky (Japan’s most popular snack, writes Judith), a pretty, hand-decorated envelope, hot yuzu drink (a kind of citrus fruit), decorative masking tape and bath soak. Inside the envelope, there was a sweet letter explaining all my gifts (in Japan’s long, cold winters, Judith is thankful for anything that will heklp stay warm!) plus this postcard:

postcard

Sign up for December’s Snail Mail Collective closes TOMORROW and it’s the last ever one, so if you fancy joining in get yourself over there now and put your name down. The theme for December is travel. Here’s the link: http://thenectarcollective.com/2013/12/december-snail-mail-collective-last-one/


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Rain and elephants in Trier

Trier 1

I first read about the Elephant Parade on Travel With Intent’s blog, when she posted photos of them as her entry for Ailsa’s multi-coloured photo theme. The elephants were on a tour of the UK and she had managed to catch up with them in Manchester. She mentioned that there were also parades in Luxembourg/Trier and in Southern California this year, and I knew immediately that I wanted to go and see them in Trier if they were still there. A quick check of the Internet confirmed that I had until 18 October 2013 to visit them, and so our trip was arranged.

Trier blue elephant

We woke up yesterday to rain in Karlsruhe and a weather forecast that confirmed we could expect the same of Trier, but we weren’t going to let a little water put us off! So we picked up the car and were on our way. Going was pretty good until we got right outside Trier and ended up stuck in a huge traffic jam. The minutes ticked by, and we eventually decided that we would take the next turn off, into a kind of retail centre, and see whether we could park there. It turned out we could, so we left the car and walked the rest of the way into town… finally reaching the Porta Negri about half an hour after we had arranged to meet my friend (who lives in Luxembourg) there!

The Porta Negri

The Porta Negri

There was a bit of a culinary market happening on the square beside the gate, selling new wine among other things, so our first stop was to grab some food. It’s a long drive from Karlsruhe to Trier (about 2 hours and 15 minutes… plus the time stuck in traffic trying to get in to the town!) and we were hungry. One pork steak with bread later, I was ready to explore. And we were immediately rewarded with our first few elephants.

 

A golden elephant

A golden elephant

This colourful elephant looked so sad...

This colourful elephant looked so sad…

Next stop was the Trier cathedral, which was huge! It almost seemed bigger on the inside than the outside…

Up to this point, it had been very dull and grey, but not actually raining. When we came out of the cathedral, it had started to drizzle a bit, but that wasn’t going to put me off exploring further! We put up our hoods and moved on. Here’s one of Jan’s favoruite elephants:

Trier elephant 3

The elephants were, understandably, very popular with children, and it was often difficult to take a photo without any small people getting in the shot! Which is why a lot of my photos ended up looking something like this…

Sorry I cut off your feet, Mr Roman Elephant....

Sorry I cut off your feet, Mr Roman Elephant….

Trier lays claim to being the oldest city in Germany (along with Worms, which would have us believe it takes that honour!), and there were certainly a lot of old buildings in the centre of town. Here are a few:

All the elephants in the parade could also be bought – quite a few had signs on saying they were already sold – the money going to the charity that the parade aims to raise awareness off. Where would one put a giant elephant sculpture, I wonder? There was also a shop selling smaller replicas of the elephants and other elephant products, such as keyrings and T-shirts. Jan bought me a small, plain black elephant (even the very smallest of the themed ones would have cost €35! It may be for charity but I’m not insane!). I loved this Obamafant that was on display outside the shop:

Obamafant

After walking around for around 3 hours, we went to meet D – a friend of my friend – who lives in Trier, for a coffee. My legs were very glad to have a seat for while, I can tell you! We drank and chatted for quite a while, then D said he still needed to go shopping and run some other errands, so we headed back out. It had started to rain properly by this time, but Jan wanted to find the Mosel (river) so we went for another walk. The river was quite a bit further from the main part of town than I had expected and the buildings along the river side weren’t particularly nice, which surprised me, but have some photos anyway.

The River Mosel and the Römerbrücke (Roman Bridge)

The River Mosel and the Römerbrücke (Roman Bridge)

Down by the river

Down by the river

I also spied some cute graffiti down by the river, which I couldn’t resist taking a photo of:

Awww!

Awww!

After our detour to the river, we headed back into town to eat at the only restaurant my friend had been to in Trier. It’s called Kartofeel Kiste, meaning potato crate… can you guess what they specialise in? I decided on one of the few things that seemed to be a local speciality – or at least have the town’s name in its title – Trierer Gefüllte – huge balls of potatoes filled with meat and cooked in a creamy cheese sauce. Not exactly diet friendly but delicious!

Once we’d eaten, it was time for us to head back to the car and my friend to head back to the train station. Despite the weather, it had been a very nice day! Although I have to admit, Trier wasn’t quite as nice as I’d been imagining after having it recommended by so many people! It certainly has history though and is definitely worth a visit (even when the elephants aren’t there…)

Update from August 2014: I’ve decided to add this post to the Travel edition of the Young Germany Expat Bloggers hop. You can see the other entries here.


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Bierbörse Karlsruhe

Bierbörse

On the weekend just gone, the Bierbörse came to Karlsruhe. Bier, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, means beer and Börse usually refers to the stock exchange but in this case means something more like market. Basically, it’s a beer festival… but you can erase all thoughts of Oktoberfest style happenings from your head now. There are no Mass glasses here, no tents and the beers are not served by well-endowed ladies in Dirndls. Instead, Bierbörse is more of a celebration of international beers, featuring more than 400 beers from around the world.

This stand was selling English beers

This stand was selling English beers

Some beers are only available in bottles, while others are on tap and can be purchased either in full size glasses or in a special trial-sized glass – the proBIERglas, as the signs proclaimed (probieren means to try, so a probierglas would be a trial or sample glass… and how could they possibly miss the opportunity for a play on words with Bier?). For the full-sized glasses, you pay a deposit (known as Pfand), which you get back when you return the glass. The small glasses are yours to keep (whether you want to or not!). This year, I was clever and remembered to bring some of the many sample glasses we’ve still got at home with me.

ProBIERglas

ProBIERglas

The Bierböse used to take place on a small patch of grass beside the castle, but it’s grown since then and is now held behind the castle in the Schlossgarten proper. Nice and central and in pretty surroundings. What more could you want?

The tower of the castle

The tower of the castle

A lot of the stands are literally just wooden structures with awnings over the top, but there are some more imaginative ones – like a windmill and a pirate ship (the ship photo is actually from the 2012 Bierbörse, but it was in the exact some position this year).

Bierbörse 4

Bierbörse 2012

This year, I tried a German cherry beer by a brewer that I no longer remember, a chocolate beer (Young’s Double Chocolate Stout), which was disappointing, a strawberry wheat beer by the Belgian brewery Floris (makers of Delirium Tremens for any beer experts out there!) and another Belgian beer, this time a raspberry one by Grimmbergen. And I tried a few sips of Jan’s beers as well, including an Austrian beer which he got so I could keep the glass (he remembered that I liked the glass when we had a beer by the same brewery in Berlin this year).

The Bierbörse has taken place in 14 cities so far this year, with one more to go (Osterode am Harz – if you’re in that area, get yourselves along) and will be back again next year, starting with a visit to Hückeswagen in Nordrhein-Westfalen (about 40 km from Cologne) from 2–4 May 2014.

And next weekend I’m off to a wine festival! You’ll be able to read all about that here in roughly a week’s time.


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My bee-day party

Yesterday was an interesting day. First, I left my purse at home and only realised when I was sitting on the train ready to go to work. Luckily I was able to get back off the train just before the doors closed, then I power walked home, got my purse and took a tram back to the station in time for the 8 o’clock train… all within 24 minutes. Miraculously, I actually got a seat on the second train… I tend to avoid that one because I always end up standing in the corridor, which is not what I want that early in the morning. Then, after work, I arrived at the train station ready to go home only to find police on my platform and the Bahn personnel telling everyone to go away. I headed back up to the departures boards to wait for them to announce where my train would be arriving and decided to treat myself to a Magnum while I waited. To get to the new platform, I had to pass the steps leading up to my original platform, which I saw were now taped off with Deutsche Bahn employees standing at the bottom stopping anyone from getting up there. As soon as I got home, I googled to try and find out what was going on, but the Internet had no information. Nothing in the news this morning either… curious!

But that’s not really what I want to talk about today…
What I do want to do is finally tell you about my birthday party! But first, some background.

I like bees, and one of my nicknames used to be Bee (for the first letter of my name, but written out), so a few years ago, I mentioned to Jan that one day I would like to have a “bee-day” party. The idea was that I would get people to dress in either black, yellow or black and yellow (black and yellow stripes would, of course, be perfect), decorate the flat with bees and have bee-themed food and drinks. I then didn’t have a birthday party for a couple of years for various reasons (last year I went to Sweden the day after my birthday, for example) and kind of forgot about the idea… until I found bee glasses at Claire’s in Dublin. I bought them, saying “these would be perfect if I ever do decide to have a bee-day party!”, then found myself explaining my idea to the friends who were travelling with me.

Bee glasses

Bee glasses

Fast forward to my 30th birthday… Jan’s gift to me was a dress with bees all over it. He made me try it on straight away to make sure it fit, then said he would like me to wear it at my birthday party that weekend. I had originally planned to wear a dress my mum bought me, but was easily persuaded to go for the bee dress instead (did I mention I like bees?!)

The Saturday after my birthday was the day of my party. We had arranged to have it at a relatively new bar/café called Soul, which does interesting cocktails and excellent food, including delicious homemade ice cream and excellent mozzerella Maultaschen in garlic butter. If you live in Karlsruhe, you should, check it out! We had the room from 7 pm, so Jan and I went a little early along with a friend who was staying at mine that night (it’s difficult for her to get back to where she lives late at night). We arranged the few last-minute details, then settled down outside with a portion of ice cream each. Then, at just before seven, Jan went off to see whether anyone was coming yet (the plan being to move inside when people started arriving so they would find us).

He was gone for quite a while, and my friend and I had started to joke that he’d run off leaving us to pay the bill, then he turned up with the group of friens I go to the quiz with. All of them (including Jan now) were wearing yellow and black striped T-shirts and my friend K (I really need to think of better pseudonyms for people…) was carrying a cake. This cake:

bee cake

How adorable is that? Underneath the icing is chocolate Guinness cake… which is delicious! Don’t let the Guinness put you off – it really does taste good! They also had bee-themed gifts… despite the fact that I had already received my gifts from them on my actual birthday (a Tina Dico CD and a bunch of flowers, in case anyone’s wondering). I got some honey, a bee-shaped ballon and this:

My pillow pal

My pillow pal

I’ve named him Johnny Bee (geddit?).

Jan had arranged with the bar owner that he would pay for everyone’s first cocktail plus crostini for everyone, and I had asked for everyone to be given a glass of Prosecco when they came in so we could do the glass-clinking thing. The crostini were really good – at least the tomato-mozzerella and the red pesto ones were. I didn’t try the others (the toppings contained things I don’t like) but they seemed to go down well… they disappeared quickly enough anyway! The cocktails were tasty too, and as far as I can tell everyone had a good time. I know I did!

Thank you to my amazing friends and boyfriend for arranging it all! ♥♥

And now I have to go cross stitch… my friend most inconsiderately went and gave birth and I’m not finished yet ;-)


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Cocktails and cross dressing

Hello!
I kind of neglected my blog this weekend… mostly because I was busy, but also because I had nothing much to say. Now that my 30 German Towns Before 30 challenge is over, I don’t have a ready-made filler topic any more! Will have to find something new to post about! (And on a side note, why to I misspell “because” 9 out of 10 times when I type it?!).

Blue alarm clock

Follow the alarm clock… you know you want to! (Photo: Wikipedia)

Anyway… I’m sure you’re all wondering what I did with my last weekend in my 20s… and if you’re not, tough! I’m going to tell you anyway ;-) But before I do, a favour.  My friend is taking part in GISHWHES… which stands for the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, and as part of it her team’s alarm clock Twitter account needs 200 followers. Nope, I have no idea why an alarm clock either! But I’m sure it would help very much if all my lovely bloggy friends could follow the Twitter account: @TeamBrokenAngel. It’s only for a week… and also the whole thing is for charity. Thank you lovelies!!

So… what did I do this weekend? Well, on Friday night my friend came round for tea. We ate homemade burgers and homemade chips, drank wine and chatted about life, the universe and everything.

On Saturday I spent most of the day going round every clothes shop in Karlsruhe in search of hotpants and fishnets, among other things. Do you know how difficult it is to find black hotpants when every shop has already switched to the autumn collection, despite the fact that it’s only August? The answer you’re looking for is very!

That evening, Jan and I headed to somewhere near Bruchsal to watch a friend of ours perform. She had been taking part in a workshop for aspiring choir conductors and the performance was their final concert. Instead of an entire program made up of different songs, they only performed a few songs, but with a different conductor each time so that the audience could hear how different ways of conducting influences the sound of the song. Very cool! On the way home, I remembered that it was my final weekend before turning 30, so Jan suggested going for a cocktail. We went to the same place where I’ll be celebrating my birthday, and Jan was able to speak to the person in charge, so the party is now basically sorted. Woo hoo!

Rocky horror lips!

Rocky Horror lips (Photo: glyn_nelson)

Sunday then marked the official start of my birthday celebrations… and the reason I was on a hunt for fishnets!
Knowing how much I like musicals, Jan had bought us tickets for The Rocky Horror Show! It’s part of my birthday present, but because yesterday was the last day of the current run, it had to be done before my actual birthday. And naturally I had to go in costume… where’s the fun in going to Rocky in normal clothes? We went as a group of six, three of whom were male, and we even managed to persuade the guys to dress in women’s clothing… well, what did you think the title of this post was about? ;-) It was… “interesting” seeing the show performed in German, especially since the songs were still in English! But once I got used to the sudden switches it was quite enjoyable, and all in all, I thought they did a very good job, especially considering it was a small theatre! Because we all went in costume, we each got a small bag of props, which was a new experience for me! Last time I went, the theatre didn’t allow props. Chucking toilet roll around a theatre is a lot of fun, let me tell you! :-D

The last time I saw the Rocky Horror Show, it was the official 30th Anniversary Tour in 2003. This year, in June, the show celebrated its 40th anniversary. I suppose that means I’d better watch it again in ten years for the 50th anniversary show. Traditions must be upheld, after all! ;-)

(P.s. If you’re wondering how I’m posting so early on a work day… it’s because for once I have time for a proper lunch break! ;-))


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What am I stitching? Part 3

I couldn’t possibly go away for a week and leave you without a single post, could I? Since it’s exactly a week since I last had you try and guess what I’m currently cross stitching, I decided to take the easy route for this one and give you part 3.

Last week, I gave you this photo to base your guesses on:

What am I going to be?

What am I going to be?

Here are the answers:

Lady of the Cakes was unwilling to commit herself too much, but she did spot a little grey cloud of doom on the picture!
Elaine from I Used to be Indecisive thought it might be a green teddy bear sitting astride an ‘arm’ of a star.
Thoughtsy had a few ideas: An angel on a moon…or a banana. Maybe a little kid sleeping on the moon…or a banana.
Janey of Is That You Darling? initially wanted to suggest a canary, but decided the yellow thing probably is a moon after all.
Linda of Expat Eye on Latvia came up with the hilarious suggestion of a leprechaun with an egg-shaped head, kicking his heels together as he dances a jig in his green booties. For some reason I can’t explain, a banana is throwing up a little in the background. I almost wish it was that!
Gina4Star‘s answer was “a banana boat in the (green) sea?! Or more topically, I think it might be an angel.
Someone calling themselves JJ asked “Is it a baby climbing a banana?“. I can neither confirm nor deny that at this point, JJ.
Elaine from I Used to be Indecisive then returned with another guess: A dragon!
Then JP, aka Pining Liwasan, came up with this: “A hungry bear eating a loaf of bread, resting his back on something“, the something being either a moon or a yellow tree trunk.
And finally, I asked Jan what it looked like to him, and his response was “A woman dancing“. The grey thing is her hat, she’s rather well endowed, and the yellow is a spotlight shining on her.

Lots of fun guesses… and lots of bananas! Let’s see what you all come up with for this week’s picture:

Is it becoming clearer?... Or more difficult?

Does this make things any easier? ;-)

Also, Lady of the Cakes asked whether there would be a prize. So, I’m thinking German chocolate. The only question now is does the first person to guess (or come close to) the right answer win, or do I send the goodies to whoever’s answer I like best? Decisions, decisions…


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Cross stitch, cocktails and a new dress

Hi!
Did you all have a good weekend? Mine flew by too fast, as usual, but I managed to cram a lot in.

On Saturday, I dragged the boyfriend shopping with me. After weeks of failure, I wanted to finally purchase a dress for the christening I’m going to in 2 weeks and I needed him along for a second opinion. We ended up in a shop called BiBa, which I’ve never been in before, and after trying on a dress that made me look completely shapeless, the shop assistant remembered something else they had in stock and came back with something else for me to try on. It fit, it emphasised my good bits (whilst hiding the worst of the lumps and bumps) and I liked the colours… even the little bit of pink on the front didn’t disturb me too much (I hate pink!). And – best of all – it was size XS (something I suspect had more to do with the shop’s sizing system than me). Jan liked it as well, so we decided to go with it, even though it cost slightly more than I had been planning to spend.
And now I bet you all want to see the dress, don’t you? OK… here it is:

Dress

That evening, we went to Karlsruhe’s beach bar. One of our friends couldn’t believe we’d never been, and insisted that we take the opportunity now the weather is finally nice. It could very well be raining again by this time next week, and there isn’t that much of the summer left any more. The place itself was nice enough… it’s on the roof of a multi-story carpark, which is pretty cool. You can watch the birds and, once it gets dark, see the stars. The service was incredibly slow though, and the cocktails I tried were a bit meh. The Mojito Razz (raspbery mojito made using Bacardi Razz) was nice enough, but the Hugo was far too sweet and Jan’s Sundowner was awful! Later, we moved on to a new place that Jan and I have walked past a couple of times and been meaning to check out. The Strawberry Colada I had there was amazing! Not too sweet and made with real strawberries.

Cocktails at Soul

Cocktails at Soul

Sunday was mostly spent alternating between housework and cross stitch. Once again, I’m rushing to get a gift finished in time for an event (last time it was a wedding, this time it’s a birth). Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Anyone feel like guessing what it's going to be? ;-)

Anyone feel like guessing what it’s going to be? ;-)

I still have a long way to go before it even starts to resemble a picture! Guess what I’ll be doing with my evenings this week…
On Sunday evening, we were invited round to a friend’s place for dinner. We had peach chicken with couscous, which was delicious! This was followed by chocolate fondue with plenty of fruit for dipping. My waist line did not thank me, but it was so, so worth it! I also indulged in some Pimms and lemonade (now that’s what they Aldi should have had for their British Isles week instead of Buck’s Fizz… Pimms!). Good food, good company and wine… could there be a more perfect way to finish the weekend?

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