After the debacle that was my attempt to post on my birthday (I hit publosh and the computer just sat there going “posting…” for half an hour, which is when I got mad and gave up!), I’ve managed to find a way back to the old publishing screen, so hopefully this post will actually appear on my screen! In case anyone else is having trouble, it appears going via dashboard takes you to the plain text publishing page instead of that new fangled one that probably requires all sorts of things this computer doesn’t have! Anyway, on with the letters…
Dear boyfriend. As much as I will miss you when you’re away, I’m actually looking forward to having a whole weekend to myself. My plan is to sleep, read a lot and eat crappy meals that require no chopping of vegetables. And as for next week… eaten before 8 pm and getting a few early nights? Sounds like a plan to me! Then, in just over a week, I get to see you in Taiwan and have you all to myself for an entire 6 days! Yay.
Dear weather. Would you please make up your mind! I’m sick of either dressing in trousers because it looks like rain then coming home from work desperate to change into a dress because I’m so hot or heading out in a skirt because the weather looks fine only to get absolutely soaked and have to sit around in wet clothes all day!
Dear WordPress. Please stop fixing things that aren’t broken! The old way of publishing posts worked just fine! I am aware that most of the reason I can’t use the old system is because this computer is terrible (and hasn’t had any updates done to it for over a year), but that’s not the point! We can’t all have the latest technology and there’s no need to fiddle with things all the time!
Dear computer. I know most of your problems are Jan’s fault for neglecting you (and there’s nothing I can do about it as I don’t have an admin password!), but if you don’t stop doing things like refusing to publish blogposts, freezing when I go on certain websites and taking centuries to upload photos to anywhere (WordPress, Twitter, Facebook), I will not be responsible for my actions!
Dear friends/family. Thank you for all the lovely cards/gifts/messages for my birthday. I loved everything and I am so thankful to everyone who thought of me.
That’s all for this week. Slightly moany, I’m afraid. I’ll try to do better next time 😉 In the meantime, I’m scheduling this post, so hopefully it will actually publish!
This was supposed to be yesterday’s blog post… except WordPress have gone and changed the bit where you write posts and I now literally cannot publish them on my home computer. I press publish and it just sits there saying “posting” for ages. So I’m posting this from work…
I forgot to take a photo of the cake I baked for work, mostly because by the time it was ready it was so late Jan had to take it out of the oven for me and yesterday I was too busy getting ready for work to think of it. But luckily a package from a friend saved my blog from being cakeless on my birthday… or it would have if I’d been able to post!
Anyway, this is what a mini Smarties cake looks like after travelling all the way from the UK:
And now I guess I’m officially “in my 30s” (as opposed to just being 30). *Sigh*
As some of you wioll know, the British TV series Dr Who celebrated its 50th birthday on Saturday. That day also just happened to be the birthday of one of my friends, and in the invitation to the party he suggested that people might want to wear “a bow tie or something blue that’s bigger on the inside than the outside…”. I’m not sure most people got the reference, but I did. I may not have seen a single episode of Dr Who, ever, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know some things about it. It is embedded in my culture, after all. And I spent half my childhood being afraid I might accidently catch an episode and see the Daleks. Those things are terrifying when you’re six! But I digress…
Some of us started talking about what things we could do for the occasion, and in a moment of what I can only assume was temporary insanity, I volunteered to make a cake… a blue cake! (The cake part alone wouldn’t be insane. I like making cake, but blue cake was a new one!). After a couple of experiments, I finally hit upon a recipe that I liked and that resulted in a reasonably decent shade of blue, so on Saturday morning, the baking commenced…
I admit the outside doesn’t look very blue… but it had after all been baked, so what do you expect? And you can see some blue shimmering through the brown.
For the topping and filling, I used vanilla cream cheese frosting, because there is no better icing! If there is a heaven, I’m pretty sure it’s a place where you can eat vanilla cream cheese frosting by the bowlful and not end up feeling sick!
Icing done, it was time to decorate. Unfortunately, all my blue food colouring was in the cake, so I had to make do with what limited other supplies I had… Germany is mostly disappointing when it comes to cake decorating equipment! But I did what I could with colourful sugar confetti and stars…
A little wonky, but at least it’s recognisable! Here, have a close up:
Clearly that photo was taken before I put the stars on, so I’ve inserted the last two in the wrong order but nobody cares about that, do they?
And just so you can see that it really was blue(ish) inside, here is my cake later that evening…
As for the taste… it was pretty darn good, even if I do say so myself!
Somehow, this week has gone fast… which is surprising considering Jan was away from Sunday until Wednesday (and last night he had choir practice, so I’ve seen him for a total of maybe two and half hours so far this week!). Usually the evenings drag when I’m on my own… but not this time! And now it’s Friday again, and time for some letters.
Dear boyfriend. I hope you don’t have to work this weekend. It would be nice to spend some time with you before you go away for two weeks(!!) next Saturday!
Dear grandpa. I hope you can have your operation next week and everything goes well.
Dear flat. Sorry I’ve been neglecting you. I promise to hoover soon!
Dear Milka Lila Stix. I’ve just discovered you and I’m already in danger of becoming addicted! Biscuits similar to Cadburys Chocolate Fingers but with Milka chocolate instead of Dairy Milk? GIMME!!!
Dear friends/family. Do you think we could get to the end of the year without anyone else annoucing an engagement or a pregnancy? Pleeease?
Dear Karlsruhe Christmas market. I find it unfair that you aren’t starting til 28th November this year. Heidelberg are opening theirs on the 25th!
You may or may not know that after graduating from university I moved to Austria for 10 months. I had originally wanted to go to Innsbruck for my year abroad, but my uni only had one exchange place there and somebody else got it. I was left with my second choice… Karlsruhe. So when it came to deciding what to do with myself after graduation, I decided now was my chance to go to Austria. I applied for the position of English Language Assistant through the British Council, selecting Vorarlberg as my first choice Bundesland because it was the closest part of Austria to Baden-Württemberg (where Karlsruhe is) and, because almost nobody actually chooses to got to Vorarlberg, I got what I wanted!
I was assigned to two schools, with the main one – where I would work three times a week – in Feldkirch and a second one in Götzis, a few train stops away. I decided to live in Feldkirch, partly because I was going to spending most of my working hours there but also because Götzis is a pretty small town, while Feldkirch is the second largest in Vorarlberg (which doesn’t mean much when you consider the size of most towns in Vorarlberg). That year was the start of my love affair with Austria. I had always wanted to go to Austria (thanks to the Chalet School books!) but I was never really in love with it until I actually lived there. Admittedly I didn’t always have the best time there – the other language assistants had a tendency to “forget” to invite me to things and I was lonely a lot of the time – but I never tired of the scenery. Even now, I miss looking out of my window and seeing mountains (climbing the hill with all my shopping not so much!). And if I ever see something Austrian on a menu I will always order it.
I hadn’t actually been back to Vorarlberg since finishing my assistantship, so when Jan and I were invited to a birthday celebration at a hut in Switzerland, close to the Austrian border, and Jan suggested leaving the day before (a public holiday in my part of Germany) to spend some time together first, it was obvious that I was going to want to see Feldkich again. Luckily, Jan agreed so we booked a room at the Best Western in town and he arranged for a car.
We arrived in Feldkirch at 3 pm, after driving a route that took us through most of Vorarlberg, and quickly checked in before heading out for a walk around while it was still light. It was a dull, cloudy day but I took photos anyway. And I discovered that Feldkirch hasn’t changed very much – they now have a Müller, one of the book shops has gone and two of the bars we used to go to have closed down, but other than that everything looks the same.
The Churer Tor (Chur Gate)
Marktgasse in Feldkirch, Austria
Marktgasse from the other end
Feldkirch Landesgericht (State Court)
Part of Liechtensteiner Straße
The River Ill in Feldkirch
Feldkirch Diebsturm (Thieves’s Tower)
After walking around for about an hour and a half, we’d basically seen everything – the main centre isn’t very big and there’s not much to see in the other parts of town. We had been driving for about four hours and hadn’t stopped for lunch, so we decided to go for some food. Rösslepark was exactly the same (except that it now has a smoking and non-smoking section). The beer is still good and I enjoyed me real Austrian Wienerschnitzel. Jan chose the Schlachtteller – literally slaughter or butcher platter – which consisted of meat, meat and more meat! But not just any meat… it included things like liver sausage and blood sausage… and tongue! So I can now say I’ve tried beef tongue (of course I sampled some). It tastes a bit like beef, but has a weird texture and is slightly bitter. Not something I’m likely to eat again…
After eating, we went back out into the dark and had a walk up to the local castle – the Schattenburg. There’s a museum in there, which I’ve never been to, and a restuarant that is best known for its giant Schnitzel. I ate there once when I lived in Feldkirch and I can confirm that those things take up an entire plate! They come with chips (fries), which have to be served separately. Here’s the Schattenburg and some terrible night-time shots of Feldkirch from above – my camera doesn’t do too well in the dark!
Looking down on Feldkirch from the Schattenburg
Feldkirch from above, by night
Looking up at the Schattenburg
The next morning, after checking out of the hotel, we drove over to Dornbirn – the second biggest town in Vorarlberg. A couple who had lived in Feldkirch when I lived there moved to Dornbirn three years ago so we went to visit them and their 11 week old son! It was lovely to see my friends again and the baby was very cute.
After a cup of tea, some baby hugs and a catch up, it was time to move on as we had another long drive ahead of us…
Check in soon to read about our further adventures over the long weekend!
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.
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!
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.
Next stop was the Trier cathedral, which was huge! It almost seemed bigger on the inside than the outside…
Inside the cathedral
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:
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…
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:
Former Hotel Dom… now a McDonalds
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:
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.
I also spied some cute graffiti down by the river, which I couldn’t resist taking a photo of:
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!
After cutting into one of the balls
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 entrieshere.
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.
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:
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:
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 😉
This has been one of the longest weeks of my life (colleague on holiday + large translation job = stress) but it still seems like only two minutes since the last time I posted Friday letters. With only nine days left until the end of September, I find myself wondering once again where on Earth this year has gone!! And it’s showing no signs of slowing down. *Sigh*. Anyway…
Dear friends (and boyfriend). Thank you for the amazing “bee-day” party. It was a lovely surprise.
Dear Amazon seller. Please hurry up and send me my goods so I can post them to England in time for my little brother’s birthday…
Dear little brother. I cannot believe you’re turning 7 already! I remember you as a tiny baby who had to stay in hospital for weeks because you came way too early. Time flies!
Dear weekend. I am hoping you will be less hectic than the last one! No plans for you so far… other than the usual shopping/cooking/cleaning, that is…
Dear boyfriend. I basically haven’t seen you this week, so I’m pleased we’ve made a few tentative plans for September. I just hope we can find the time to finalise them!
That’s all folks. My lunch break is over. Have a great weekend! (I’m including Ashley’s button although she probably won’t be hosting Friday’s letters for a while seeing as she’s just had a baby and all!)
No weigh-in Wednesday today. Instead, I am going to tell you all about how I celebrated my 30th birthday yesterday.
As you already know, the day started off well with sausage and bacon sandwiches, provided by Jan. YUM! My friend then turned up bearing cupcakes with candles on them! For the record, I suck at blowing out candles… and there weren’t even 30 of them!
Jan and I then drove to Strasbourg (one of the great things about living where I do is that I can very easily just pop to France for the day! We walked around a bit then went and ate cake at a place called Christian’s, which is apparantly famous. Here are the cakes:
We choose two different cakes and halved them both. And because I am so dedicated, I even took a photo of the insides for you:
On returning from Strasbourg, we both went for a nap, then it was time to hit the pub. First we went and ate food at another place then we headed to the Irish pub. It was (mostly) great fun. I was given a bunch of flowers and a CD by my wonderful friends. Then I drank wine and waaaay to much whiskey – none of which I ordered or paid for myself. Then in a drunken state, I started telling people about my blog (mostly because our waitress is someone I originally knew through blogging). Despite me telling them it’s not particularly interesting, they all wanted to URL. So, that was the fun stage of drunkennes…. then the whiskey really kicked in and the tears started, as I told Jan he doesn’t care about me and I’m doomed to die alone and childless while all my friends get married. NOT pretty… and I’m sure I made one or two people very uncomfortable. If any of the people who were there last night have decided to read this, I hereby apologise most sincerely for my behaviour last night!! I don’t really remember most of the journey home. I ended up walking back with my neighbour, wailing and complaining at him all the way, then he came in with me because Jan wasn’t back yet. At some point, I decided I felt sick (classssy!!) and went into the bathroom, then I got a text to say Jan would be home soon so I sent the neighbour away and Jan arrived to find me sitting on the bathroom floor. I never was actually sick by the way, but it was embarassing nonetheless. Alcohol is evil people!!! Avoid it!
So that was how I turned 30. A good day surrounded by lovely people… until I ruined it all by being a drunken mess. But I wasn’t a mess until after midnight, so technically my actual birthday was all good 😉
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?!).
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!
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! 😀
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! ;-))