So, I got my poppadoms

After all the talk of poppadoms and Indian takeaways right here on my blog, there was no way I was going to get through Friday without one! So I texted Jan the message “Want to meet me for curry tonight? I really fancy one!”. His response was “Sure, where?”, and so he left work relatively early and met me for Indian foods. He ended up going back to work afterwards, but that didn’t bother me… I was fed and watered by that time. Well, mango lassied anyway…

Papadums
I was too busy stuffing my face to take photos, so you’ll have to make do with someone elses… (Photo credit: Renée S. Suen)

The place we went to is called Continent. If you go there straight from England expecting the kind of curry you would get at home, I can guarantee you will be disappointed. But the food is reasonably tasty and at €8.90 for the all-yo-can-eat buffet, I’m not complaining. And anyway, they have poppadoms (which is what I was mostly craving) and some very nice Naan bread, so it’s all good. Basically, it’s a budget place and it shows… perfect for students and other people who don’t have a lot to spend. Oh, and it caters to German tastes, so the so-called “Lamb Vindaloo” was roughly as spicy as your average chicken tikka masala… The vegetable pakoras are… odd. They literally slice up some vegetables (courgettes, onions and potatoes as far as I can tell) and coat each individual slice in batter before deep frying it. The shape and size of the potato ones makes them basically battered chips (fries). I’m pretty sure that’s not how pakoras are done in the UK? But what do I know… I’m not Indian. And they’re still tasty even if they’re nothing like any pakora I’ve ever seen.

I don’t think they do anything vegan, but the buffet has 4 or 5 things that are suitable for vegetarians and I assume there’s more on the main menu (I keep telling myself that I’m going to order a full meal from them one day, but the idea of trying everything on the buffet is always too tempting…). So if you’re ever in Karlsruhe and fancy eating something vaguely Indian without spending too much money, you can do worse than a trip to Continent. The food there is certainly a million times better than the place we went to in Rottweil

Farscape
Farscape (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday, we travelled to Germersheim (a village an hour’s tram ride away) for a birthday party. I ate a delicious panino with goat’s cheese, honey and sun-dried tomatoes. Then we came home, watched an episode of Farscape and ordered pizza for tea… or technically supper, I suppose. It was around 10 p.m. by that time. Yes, I’m pleased to report that 16 days after removal of my wisdom teeth I finally managed to eat pizza again! Hurrah.

The plan for today is to rearrange some of the living room furniture… whenever Jan decides to get out of bed, that is…

Happy Sunday everyone! I hope you’ve all had an enjoyable weekend, too!

Hello autumn!

Fallen leaves in the Schlosspark
Fallen leaves in the Schlosspark

Today is the official first day of autumn and the sun is actually shining, so when Jan went out to vote I decided to join him for a walk. I had my camera along with me so I was able to capture the first signs of autumn just for you guys.

Still mostly green... but slowly starting to change
Still mostly green… but slowly starting to change

Once Jan had voted (as a non-German national, I’m only allowed to vote in local elections), we headed towards the Schlosspark to continue our walk. I was wearing my denim jacket, but it was so warm that I ended up taking it off and carrying it! Here are some photos of the first day of autumn in Karlsruhe’s Sclosspark.

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.

Wheelchair rugby

Today, we went to see a game of wheelchair rugby.
We first heard that such a thing existed about three years ago, but until now every time we thought about going to see it, the game in Karlsruhe turned out to be on a day that we weren’t actually here. This year, things worked out, and we were able to see a Champion’s League match between Karlsruhe Rebels and Switzerland (I originally thought it was the final, but having just looked at the schedule, I see there are still two more days of games to go).

Wheelchair rugby 1

The basic aim of the game is to score points by driving over the goal line in your wheelchair. There are cones at each end of the line, which you have to drive through. The team defending aims to stop the players on the attacking team from getting to said goal line and driving over it. They can do this by bashing into the opposing team member’s wheelchair, but actual body contact is not allowed.

In the photo below, the person holding the ball has just driven over the line, scoring a goal for his team:

Wheelchair rugby 2

After a goal is scored, the ball is given to the opposing team for a throw in. That team is then in attack and has the chance to try and score a goal. The attacking team has 12 seconds in which to get the ball over the half-way line – if they don’t manage it, they lose possession. The player with the ball is allowed to hold on to it for 10 seconds at a time – after that, they either have to bounce the ball or pass it to a team mate. Fouls are penalised wither with a time out – the player who committed the foul has to sit out wither for a specified length of time or until the opposing team scores a goal (a bit like the sin bin in Rugby Union), or with a “penalty goal”, which basically means the team that was fouled against has a certain length of time to try and score a goal and, during that time, the opposing team cannot defend against them. Other rules are that only three players from the defending team at a time can be in the rectangle in front of the goal line at one time, and attacking players can only stay in that same zone for 10 seconds each.

My pictures aren’t brilliant, but I hope they’re good enough to give you an idea of what’s going on. Here’s one of a member of the Swiss team about to score a goal:

Wheelchair rugby 3

The match we saw started off quite tame – it seemed a little too easy to score a goal, and the Swiss team were clearly inferior, but after a while things picked up a bit, they figured out how to effectively defend against the Rebels and it got a lot more interesting. There was certainly more instances of wheelchairs banging into each other in a manner that reminded me of the dodgems at the funfair!

It wasn’t as violent as I’d been lead to expect from watching YouTube videos, but it was an interesting game to watch and it was quite easy to work out what was going on (definitely an advantage over ordinary rugby!)

Entry to the game cost nothing, so if I’m not busy when there’s another match in Karlsruhe I would certainly consider going along again. There are much worse ways to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon!

Wheelchair rugby 4

Travel theme: Light

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about today, but then I saw that this week’s travel theme at Where’s My Backpack is Light and my Sunday blog post was saved! Considering my obsession with taking photos of lanterns, this theme is absolutely perfect for me!

So, without further ado, let there be light!

I’ll start with my most recent trip, simply because the uploader is still in that folder. Here’s a rather elaborate lamp post on the Gendarmen Markt in Berlin:

Berlin lanterns

This light source in Luxembourg is rather fun:

Luxembourg face

There are three or four columns in front of the palace with these faces on, and when you pass them, they seem to turn and follow you. Creepy, but kind of cool!

A different source of light now… the photo below was taken in a cathedral in Brussels, Belgium:

Candles

Returning to lanterns (I swear, I could post literally hundreds of pictures of those! This one is attached to the side of a building in Heidelberg – I love all the colours!

Colourful lantern

My next lantern is in Bad Dürkheim.

Lantern Bad Dürkheim

I loooove this dragon light that I spotted in Ettlingen. So cool!! (Have I ever mentioned that I like dragons? No? Well, consider it mentioned…)

Dragon lamp

And finally, something a little different. The next few photos were taken at the Lichterfest (Festival of Lights) that took place in the Karlsruhe zoo/gardens in 2011. I’ve heard the Lichterfest is on every two years, so there should be another one this year…

Elephant lights

Bird lights

Swans lights

Pyramid lights

The final one represents the pyramid that stands on Karlsruhe Market Place. Here’s the real thing:

Karlsruhe Pyramid

The pyramid photo was taken by my ex-housemate when he came to visit me last year. All my pyramid photos seem to involve somebody posing in front of the pyramid, and I don’t like to post photos of people without their permission (especially considering I only post photos of myself in exceptional circumstances. I would consider that a little hypocritical…)

That’s all from me. For more photos on the theme of light or to join in yourself (you have until Thursday, after that there will be a new travel theme), go here.

This is the third travel theme I’ve taken part in. For those who missed them, my previous ones were Time and Bridges (click the words to view the posts).

Weekend fun

I have more to tell you about Berlin, but the photos are taking ages to sort, so for now I shall tell you about my weekend instead.

Yesterday my friend brought her Wii round and a few of us had a games night. We invited my downstairs neighbour over so we couldn’t disturb anyone and did Just Dance. It was a lot of fun but sooo exhausting! And I can really feel my thighs today! At least I can definitely say I got my exercise this weekend! Photos do exist, but they will not be finding their way on to this blog ever.

Today, the sun was shining, so after watching Newcastle United lose horribly in a football match against their local rivals (I wish I’d stayed in bed!!), Jan and I headed out to look for signs that Spring has finally sprung. We found them in the form of blossoms… finally here a month later than usual!

Spring tree

My new shoes finally got their chance to go outside! Hopefully this is the start of this year’s good weather and I won’t have to get my winter boots back out again!

Polkadot shoes

Our yearly passes for the zoo ran out a week ago, so we decided to go and renew them, and pop in to the zoo while we were at it. We got to see the new baby giraffe! Very cute.

Baby giraffeWe also went to visit the alpacas, but they were too busy eating grass to pay any attention to us.

Alpaca

Walking round zoos is thirsty work, so we decided to head to a cafe and have an iced chocolate (well, I did. Jan had some yoghurty fruit thing).

DSCN2974

Then it was time to head home for our tea (or dinner, if you prefer), which is currently cooking. Meanwhile, I’m off to watch The Big Bang Theory.

-Filler post-

Today’s post was supposed to be about a baking fail, but the photos I need for it are still on Jan’s phone (which is currently at work with him and will be until at least 8:30 pm!). Plus a planning mix-up at work has resulted in me being given 18 and a half hours of translation to do despite the fact that I have Thursday and Friday off this week. 18.5 hours of work in a 16-hour working week = overtime, which doesn’t leave much time for blogging!

Luckily, I still have hundreds of photos on my computer that you – my readers – have never seen, so I thought I’d pick a random one to upload for you.
I went into my “Photos” folder and chose the 13th sub-folder from within it (because 13 is my favourite number). Within that sub-folder, I then selected photo number 13. And that photo is…

Botanische Garten KA

The botanic garden in Karlsruhe! This was taken in August 2008, when my mum and brother had come to visit for a few days. They were actually staying with my uncle in Munich, but decided to make the journey down to Karlsruhe to see where I lived. For the two days they were here, we had perfect weather and I was able to show them everything there is to see in Karlsruhe (which admittedly isn’t much – if they’d been here any longer we’d have had to start taking day trips!).

Return of the snow

I thought Karlsruhe had managed to escape the latest round of snow. Berlin has been ankle deep in it for ages and Frankfurt Airport was recently closed because of it (again!), but until now, every time the white stuff was forecast for Karlsruhe, we got rain instead. Our time, it appears, has now come. Here’s what I woke up to this morning:

DSCN2457

I wouldn’t even mind the snow so much – despite the fact that it is now officially spring and I want daffodils – if it hadn’t brought freezing wind with it. My gloves did absolutely nothing for me this morning!

Thank goodness I only have four days at work this week. After that it’s Easter, and since practically everything is closed on Good Friday I have an excellent excuse to hide in the house and drink endless cups of tea!

Primark comes to Karlsruhe

Primark opened in Karlsruhe on Thursday, and being basically an excitable teenager trapped in a 29-year-old body, I naturally went along on the very first day it was open. Being a weekday, I was obviously at work, but I had to go into town that evening anyway to pick up some bits for breakfast, so I decided to head to that end of Karlsruhe for a change. When I first got into Post Galerie, I actually ended up deciding to leave Primark for another day – people were queuing up just to get in the door! So I headed downstairs to Rossman instead and grabbed the bits I needed, then went to the Asian place next door and treated myself to a noodle box with mini spring rolls. Back upstairs, I saw that the queue had gone, so after standing myself in a corner by the lift to finish my tea, I headed inside Karlsruhe’s newest shop. It was very exciting, let me tell you! I wasn’t actually planning on buying anything, just looking around, but of course I gave in. I only purchased three items though. Here they are:

Primark purchases

A pair of tights, which cost me a grand total of €3. That’s THREE tiny little euros. The cheapest pair of winter tights I’ve seen in Karlsruhe ever!! I also got some fluffy foot attire, which Primark refers to as slipper socks although I would personally call them slippers, and finally, a scarf, which was the reason I gave in and decided to buy something after all, mainly because I was invited to a party the next evening and really wanted to own the scarf before then (the original plan was to makea note of what I liked and come back after payday). Here’s a close up of the pattern on the scarf. Sorry, the flash reflected back a bit, but the room was just too dark to do it without a flash.

It’s a scarf with foxes on! How on Earth could I possibly resist!

Actually, I thought I showed a great deal of willpower only buying those three things (and spending less than a tenner on those – something I never thought would be possible in Germany!). I have a whole list of things to go back for though, including another scarf – this time black with little white scotty dogs printerd on it, another pair of the slipper things in dark blue with stars on (they will match my dark blue starry pyjamas perfectly and only cost €1.50), possibly a black dress with tiny swans printed on it (I haven’t decided yet whether I like it), an owl teatowel that I spotted just dumped somwhere it wasn’t actually meant to be and also some Christmas wrapping paper. They had loads of gorgeous ones lined up by the counter and only €1.50 for a huge roll! And I didn’t even look in the homewear part (presumably where the owl was meant to live).

My feet all snuggly in their slippers

I felt right at home being in a Primark shop again, and I must have looked like a real wally wandering round with a grin on my face soaking up the atmosphere. I loved that the UK/IRL sizes were always listed first, and Primark must have flown in some experienced people for the opening because I heard several members of the security/shop-floor staff talking to each other in English, with Irish accents. Gotta love an Irish accent! Leaving the shop with my brown paper Primark bag, and seeing just how many other people were walking around town with them, I must admit I did feel like a bit of a sheep, but there are worse things than being a sheep (like not owning an amazing fox scarf :-))

Hello autumn!

We returned from England to find that autumn has Karlsruhe well and truly in its grip. There had been signs of it before me left, of course, but somehow you don’t notice just how long the nights are getting when the darkness is lasting a little longer each day. After an entire week of waking up well after sunrise, it came as a bit of a shock to wake up to pitch blackness on Monday morning (well, as pitch black as it ever gets in a city). And the dark stuck around until it was almost time for me to leave for work. Then on Wednesday – a public holiday in Germany – while walking through the castle garden in Bruchsal I picked up a shiny conker from the ground. Yes, autumn has definitely arrived again.

While I can’t seem to get particularly enthusiastic about dark mornings or the rain that the weather forecasters are threatening for this weekend, autumn does have it’s good points. Such as being able to dress up my legs in warm, funky tights again, like these brown spotty ones, purchased from C&A.

And the slightly colder weather gives me the perfect excuse to start munching on some of my favourite meals again. Things that, in summer, are just too much effort – both to cook and to eat! Cottage pie, bangers and mash, delicious curries and nice warming soups and stews. Mmmm. And, of course October means Halloween, which I can hardly wait for. I love an excuse to get dressed up! I really need to get cracking with making my costume though…