Germany

Challenges and Growth In Germany

 

Challenges And Growth

Me And Matt With Waterfall

We all know that life is constantly giving us challenges and through dealing with these challenges we grow whether we want to or not. That is our Creator’s design because some of us (not mentioning any names or looking in any mirrors) need a bit of a nudge from time to time or we just wouldn’t evolve.

And although I do believe that all challenges help us to grow I also believe that sometimes we are given so many challenges because we might not be heading in the direction that is really serving us and we are so thick headed that we aren’t getting it. One example of this from my past is my marriage to my ex-husband. From the outset there were so many challenges and signs that I believe my Creator stopped just short of sending in locusts and that was probably only because I FINALLY GOT IT!! God only knows what would have happened next had I not been so horribly and slowly astute.

So here it is the end of August and I’ve been here in Germany now for 40 days or so. Matt’s been here three weeks longer than that and we found ourselves yesterday at a place where we had to decide what we wanted to do…stay or go home.

I know what a lot of you are probably saying ‘You just got there. Why would you come home so soon?’ Well, you see, there have been quite a lot of challenges from the second Matt stepped off the plane up to this very moment as I am writing this and all of them left us thinking ‘what is our Creator trying to tell us?’

When I arrived over a month ago I landed at Koeln/Bonn Airport to find that Matt and his fellow chiropractic colleague had quit their jobs the day before. I come to find out that the organization that had painted this beautiful picture of what it was like to work with them had been doing everything illegally (i.e. no working permits for their American chiropractors, among many, many, many, many….did I mention many…other things that we found out after Matt left) and…oh yeah…they hadn’t paid Matt a cent!

So at the end of the third week of working there and having asked them nicely yet again to pay him and being yelled at not so nicely yet again by the owner (I kid you not! This lady was and is a loose cannon!) Matt told them to have a nice weekend, smiled and never went back. His fellow chiropractor did the same.

I am not going to go in to every thing that went on after that regarding the lunatic owner of the chiropractic organization here in Koeln (located right on the Rhein river that hires American Chiropractors, if you are curious) after Matt and his fellow chiropractor quit but I will tell you that there have been very few days here where her name hasn’t been heard or her presence hasn’t been felt since I’ve been here. There have been days where I felt so uncomfortable and unsafe that I was ready to grab my luggage, passport, and a cab and head to the airport immediately.

But all of that aside, the last week or two have been relatively quiet with all that. Matt and I decided when I got here that we would explore as much of Europe as we could while we were here while at the same time explore any opportunities that might be here for us. Those explorations took us to Ireland, Scotland, Luxembourg, Frankfurt, The Netherlands, Switzerland and various other places. Many of which we would have never thought of going to before coming to Germany.

It’s not all challenging here in Germany. Many things are so much easier, greener, and healthier then at home in Florida. Things such as the wonderful mass transit which leaves you with no need or desire to have a car or car insurance; the fact that they love their walks and bike rides and in response there are walking and bike trails everywhere. You can just about get any where you want to go by foot or bike with no problem here (as well as most of Europe); and their dedication to being more and more green (a.k.a. just about every thing you buy in a plastic or glass bottle has a deposit on it to make sure you return it for recycling and you have to buy the bags at the check out counter when you are buying your groceries if you forget to bring a bag from home).

But many things here in Germany are more difficult especially if you don’t speak the language fluently. Daily things like checking your voicemail on your cell phone is a challenge if you don’t understand the instructions that are being spoken to you in German. Getting internet in our apartment is a challenge (at this writing we still don’t have internet). Also, it’s very challenging and mentally tiring when you don’t speak the language of the country you are in (I understand that even if you do speak the language but it’s not your native language it is tiring) and every second of the day you have to concentrate so hard to just pick out the one or two words that you’ve learned to figure out what is being said so you can order a simple cappuccino or loaf of bread. These are all little things that can be rectified but they are still very real challenges daily and they can wear you out in the best of times.

Now I will tell you that we didn’t have ‘the best of times’ though we had a lot of good times too (as evidenced by the blogs I’ve written) and the challenges I’ve mentioned above don’t even scratch the surface of what Matt and I faced while we have been here in Germany (Matt’s written a whole volume that may or may not be made available at a later date) but I don’t think it’s necessary to outline every thing that caused us to arrive at our conclusion yesterday that we are going home on Wednesday, September 3rd.

We did not arrive at this conclusion easily because we are the type people that keep working on something until it works but this project in Germany didn’t seem to be working no matter what we tried to do and we finally came to the conclusion that this wasn’t the time that we were meant to be here in Germany. Will we ever come back to Europe or Germany again and have it work? Maybe but next time we’ll do a lot of things much differently because we’ve learned a lot about ourselves individually and as a couple just from being here and the lessons were not lost on us.

What We’ve Learned

We’ve learned that spontaneity is a wonderful thing but when making a move like we just did a little more planning and follow up is needed first. We’ve also learned that moving across the pond is not really any harder then going on vacation or moving to Florida from New York. We’ve learned that despite their differences all people are generally the same. We all eat, sleep, and want to be loved and accepted. We’ve learned that with the proper map you can get anywhere you want to go without needing to know the language. We’ve learned that paying 50 cents to use the toilets in a public place is worth it because they are much cleaner than their free counterparts. We’ve learned that when Germans have a party it’s nothing for them to all break out in song when a favorite ditty comes on the radio (usually ‘Rock Me Amadeus’ by Falco for our neighbors for some reason). Why don’t American’s do that? Are we really so free if we don’t feel we can belt out a good song when we hear it?

We’ve learned that late night German T.V. puts America’s XX ratings to shame (and that’s the public T.V. God knows what’s on their Pay per View). We’ve learned that ‘Fleishschnitzle’ basically tells you nothing except you are getting some sort of meat product breaded and fried and they ‘schnitzle’ just about anything here. We’ve learned through observing the Germans’ love of glass architecture that there are either very few Germans with a fear of heights or there is a large part of the population that doesn’t get out much at all here. We’ve learned that with the exceptions of CNN and the BBC everything on T.V. is dubbed in to German and you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Sly Stallone or Billy Crystal ‘speaking’ in to German!!

As a couple I believe Matt and I are more closely in alignment with what we want now because of this experience then we were before. Matt is more apt to leap in to things, be unorganized, and more haphazard in doing things. I am more apt to want to plan things, be super organized, and weigh the options before doing anything (some people call it cautious. I call it thorough). I think from this experience we’ve kind of begun to meet more in the middle. I’ve learned to let go a little bit and not need to be totally in control of what happens and Matt has learned that a little planning and research can go a long way.

So…What’s Next?

So for the next four days we are going to explore and enjoy the rest of our time here in Germany then once we get back to the U.S. we’ll be visiting and staying with some friends and family for a few months while we both work and decide where our next abode will be.

I am glad to have been able to visit the place where my grandmother and grandfather are from (Heidelberg, Germany) and to have also had the opportunity to travel to Cork, Ireland where my mother’s family is from. There’s a certain kind of indescribable feeling to visiting a place where you know the history of your family was born. You can almost feel your ancestors smiling at your returning ‘home’ to visit even if it is only for a day.

So we aren’t upset or disappointed in having spent time here in Germany. We wished it would have been a more uplifting and fun experience the whole time but some times the best lessons are learned when the challenges are difficult and uncomfortable.

We’ve faced those challenges square in the face and have grown because of them. Isn’t that what life is all about?

Stay tuned for more travel, challenges, and insights coming very soon. Until then Matt and I send our love to you all.

Categories: Challenges Insights and More, Germany, Language | 2 Comments

Tour of Our Apartment In Koeln, Germany

I was supposed to edit the end of this so Matt wasn’t even remotely in it but my editing software wasn’t co-operating so don’t let him know. (If you are Matt reading this then I am sure it was an error of the blog site that this video is on here 🙂

Categories: Germany, Germany, Koeln/Cologne, Koeln/Cologne, Video Tours | 1 Comment

Falling In Love In Switzerland (Day One)

Falling In Love In Switzerland (Day One)

Thursday Matt and I boarded an ICE train (German high speed train) in Koeln to head towards Bern, Switzerland to attend the wedding of our close friends, Simona and Bruno. We were very excited to finally be on our way there for many, many reasons. One reason being, well, hell it’s a wedding!! Who doesn’t get excited by a wedding?? Especially when it’s a close friend’s wedding AND you get to be with those close friends AND you get to see other close friends in Switzerland AND…well hell….IT’S SWITZERLAND PEOPLE!!

So we cozied into our comfy seats on the ICE train and sat back and enjoyed the smooth, quiet, fast, five hour ride while napping, taking in the beautiful country side views and listening to our I-Pods.

Beautiful Switzerland

Beautiful Switzerland

More Beautiful Switzerland

More Beautiful Switzerland

Upon arrival at the train station my chic flick, frequent coffee shop companion, very close friend AND bride, Simona, was standing at the platform waiting to greet us. After lots of big hugs and kisses that were long overdue for all of us (although we did see each other three weeks ago in Koeln when she surprised me by accompanying Matt to the airport to pick me up when I arrived in Germany but in my opinion you can never get enough hugs and kisses from the people you love) we made a quick stop to pick up some last minute things for the wedding the next day and then headed to the hotel where Matt and I were staying.

Our Hotel in Bern The Ibis Expo

Our Hotel in Bern The Ibis Expo

The Ibis Expo hotel in Bern is really conveniently located at the end of the number 9 tram line that takes you right into the center of Bern in only about five stops (5 minutes maximum). It is a budget hotel but is really clean and has everything you need to enjoy your stay. The quality of the hotel was exceptional in my opinion and the view from our room was of the Alps looking over the National Equestrian Center right behind the hotel.

The View of the Alps From Our Hotel Room

The View of the Alps From Our Hotel Room

Another Great View of the Mountains and the Equestrian Center

Another Great View of the Mountains and the Equestrian Center

After our check in we went to the restaurant next door to have a meal and Simona filled us in on everything we needed to know about how to get around Bern in her absence as she was going to be a bit busy the next few day what with getting married, entertaining friends and family and shuttling people back and forth to and from the airports, train stations, etcetera. After instruction us on by whom and where we were going to be picked up the following afternoon for the big event Simona headed out to await her family’s arrival.

Road Weary But Happy To Be In Bern Again!

Road Weary But Happy To Be In Bern Again!

Matt and I lounged in the restaurant for awhile afterwards finishing our meal and trying to decide what we would like to do next. It was raining out and we were really tired but we decided that we would take a little nap upstairs and then head to the city center for a little bit to see what was happening there.

View From Hotel Restaurant

View From Hotel Restaurant

Matt Relaxing After a Big Meal

Matt Relaxing After a Big Meal

Bern center was bustling due to a Busker Festival that was happening for the next few days so there were musicians of all types on the streets singing and playing their hearts out for the eager crowds. People were having dinner in the outside cafes under umbrellas and enjoying themselves despite the rain that was coming down quite steadily. Matt and I kept putting the intention out in the universe for a dry day the following day so it would not challenge the outdoor ceremony and festivities to come on Simona and Bruno’s big day.

Because of the rain neither Matt nor I wanted to take out our cameras to take pictures so we just scouted out things that we would come back to on Saturday for photos. After about an hour we decided to return to our room in order to get a good night’s rest for the long day ahead of us.

Beautiful Sunset Over The Alps

Beautiful Sunset Over The Alps

When we returned to our room we took a few more pictures from our hotel window of the view including a great photo of the sunset reflecting on the snow peaked Alps. What a beautiful country!!

Another Great View From Our Hotel Window

Another Great View From Our Hotel Window

Stay tuned for Day Two of ‘Falling In Love In Switzerland’

Another View

Another View

Bern, Switzerland

Bern, Switzerland

Bern, Switzerland From Our Room

Bern, Switzerland From Our Room

Categories: Bern, Germany, Koeln/Cologne, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Frankfurt, Germany: The Great International Stain Incident

As many of you know Matt is a chiropractor and the main reason that we are over here is because he was offered a position at a clinic here. However chiropractors are a very close knit kind of brotherhood. It’s nothing for a chiropractor to walk into an unknown chiropractic office just to introduce himself and say ‘hi’ and wind up staying for hours chatting like long lost friends. This is the typical thing that happens when you are part of this ‘brotherhood’.

So it was not unusual to be invited to visit a chiropractor’s office in Frankfurt. We accepted the invite, got on the train and headed to meet our hosts last Sunday. When we arrived we were greeted promptly at the train station by the chiropractor’s fiancée, Caroline. Gunter had a patient that called in and he was treating that patient while we were in route to the office.

Caroline and Gunter are living in Frankfurt. Gunter is German but had four successful offices in the U.K. before moving back to Germany and he now has a successful office in Frankfurt. Caroline, who is from Cardiff, Wales, teaches English in Frankfurt.

Gunter and Matt In An Outside Cafe

Gunter and Matt In An Outside Cafe

Once we met Gunter back at the practice the four of us set out on a tour of the city after having a cup of cappuccino. Later we sat out on the terraced café of the Opera house and chatted while viewing the people below.

The View From Top The Opera House Cafe

The View From Top The Opera House Cafe

Gunter and Caroline then took us to see the city from high above a building. The views were great but a little uncomfortable for someone like me that isn’t too keen on heights. Caroline felt the same and her and me wimped out by only going half way up.

Me Holding On Atop Frankfurt

Me Holding On Atop Frankfurt

The view was just fine by us there. Matt and Gunter did the manly thing and continued up the spiral staircases to the top of the building for the great view.

View Above Frankfurt

View Above Frankfurt

Another View From Above

Another View From Above

View Of Frankfurt City

View Of Frankfurt City

The thing that really struck us about Frankfurt is how clean it is. There is no graffiti, no dirt, no wrappers or empty cans on the sidewalk. Nothing! Frankfurt is just plain clean and it’s amazing.

Later on after a couple of hours of walking around and talking we stopped at a Sardinian Restaurant where we had a wonderful Italian meal. I had the spinach and cheese ravioli’s in a Butter Sage sauce and it was fantastic, but I digress….So we were sitting there in this lovely restaurant eating and chatting when all of a sudden we see a police car outside the restaurant. We watched intently as he studied something intensely in the road, radioed for back up and cordoned off the street right in front of us.

Not being able to really see what he was looking at we wondered what horrible international incident could have taken place right in front of us with out us taking notice of it. Shortly after his radio for help a van with several other police officers arrived and stared gravely at the poor thing that must be on the road. Several minutes later a few more police arrive and start sweeping and spreading something on the street and then just as quickly as they had come they were gone and the whole incident was over.

The Scene Of The Incident

The Scene Of The Incident

After our meal was delightfully completed we found ourselves face to face with the atrocity that lay on the street. Apparently someone’s car had leaked something on to the street and with the efficiency that German’s are known the world for it was taken care of with a sprinkling of sand and the world was clean again.

We were told by our banker the next day that Frankfurt has a separate branch of the police that is specifically in charge of keeping the city immaculate and they take it very seriously. He said you will not find trash on the streets in Frankfurt because these guys are all over it. They take pride in how clean the city is and let nothing keep them from their duties.

Caroline also told us that in Frankfurt you won’t find people walking around drunk or drinking because it isn’t tolerated in that city and everyone knows it and abides by it. Matt and I found that really refreshing. Who ever thought that you could have a big city that’s clean and safe! Amazing!

Roman Ruins

Roman Ruins

As we all continued our walk around Frankfurt we came across something that is getting so common to us now…Roman ruins. It seems that everywhere you go in Germany there are Roman ruins lurking amongst and below every step you make. There is such history here.

Old Town Frankfurt

Old Town Frankfurt

Just past the Roman ruins we enter into Old Town in Frankfurt filled with typical old time German buildings that at one time used to be homes. Gunter explained to us that in the old times people were taxed on the amount of land their houses stood on so instead of building wide they built up because they weren’t taxed on how high the house was. He stated that that is why old buildings in Germany tend to be high and narrow rather than short and wide. The things you learn when you travel around. It just goes to show that everything has a reason if you are keen enough to look for it.

Me Listening Intently To Caroline

Me Listening Intently To Caroline

Job offers galore. Matt and Gunter began talking shop as Chiropractors tend to do and Gunter mentioned that he was looking for someone to help him with his practice and he thought that maybe Matt would be a great match. After that Caroline asked me a bit about my education and what I do and stated that if I wanted to work in Germany too she could give me work immediately as an English teacher at her business. We told them we would think about the offer and let them know.

After another wonderful cup of cappuccino made by Caroline at Gunter’s practice we discovered that the day had flew by and that our train was leaving in about a half hour so the four of us set off towards the train station.

Matt and I both felt the same about Frankfurt. We felt comfortable there. It was really clean, serious about keeping out the riff raff and full of opportunities for both of us. We know we will meet with Gunter and Caroline again and who knows what opportunities might be waiting for us if we decide to take them.

Stay tuned for our next adventure. Until then Matt and I send our love to you all!

Categories: Frankfurt, Germany | Leave a comment

Heidelberg, Germany: Where It All Began??

My Grandparents and I in 1973-ish, New York

My Grandparents and I in 1973-ish, New York

Last week I got to visit a place that I’ve always wanted to visit because it is where my grandparents, Charlotte and George Buhl (a.k.a. Nana and Grandpa) were from. The town is Heidelberg, Germany. Growing up I always heard the German language spoken in my house and in my grandparents house. My dad spoke German fluently and didn’t learn English until he was five and going to school even though he was born in New York because that is the language my grandparents spoke at home. In my family my dad and grandparents would speak German so that the ‘kids’ and various other non-German speaking family members, a.k.a. my mom, would not know what they were speaking about. 🙂 So the language is something that I am familiar with yet I was never taught the language. My dad always stated that we lived in America and that English would be spoken in our house. It’s unfortunate especially given the fact that I am living in Germany now and a little language knowledge would certainly make things a bit better for getting around here though I feel that the mere fact that I heard it at a young age will some how help something seep up from the depths of my unconscious mind and suddenly I will wake up one morning speaking perfect German like a native!! 🙂 Oh come on…just go along with the theory for me. It helps me cope when learning a new sentence here!

So anyway, I digress, back to Heidelberg. Matt, Allen, and I headed out on a beautiful, sunny, summer day quite on a whim. Originally we were going to go to the Roman-German Museum in Cologne but the weather that day was inspiring and just begging for a road trip to ‘somewhere’ so we acted on it.

Strange Horse in Heidelberg

Strange Horse in Heidelberg

Upon entering Heidelberg we came across and interesting work of art. It was a horse-like metal sculpture that moved. The horses head, legs, and face in the center of the structure rotated and looked like it was running. It was pretty modern for what would turn out to be an old city.

The Street To The Schloss in Heidelberg

The Street To The Schloss in Heidelberg

After following the signs to the Schloss Heidelberg (Heidelberg Castle) we found the lovely old cobblestone roads that lead up the mountain to the entrance. In typical old world, Europe style they were very narrow and steep roads that really didn’t want to accommodate any car bigger than a Mini Cooper. Lucky for us we were in a Mini Cooper so there was really no challenge there. J

The View From The Castle

The View From The Castle

Upon entering the Schloss Heidelberg grounds we were greeted by beautiful, lush greenery . We all were absolutely amazed at how elaborate and beautiful the ruins of this castle were.

Wall of The Castle

Wall of The Castle

The intricate carvings and attention to detail in every direction were absolutely breathtaking and I can only imagine what this castle looked like in it’s hey day when it was intact and had kings living in it.

Exterior of Castle

Exterior of Castle

You can only get a minute idea from these pictures of the beauty but to stand there in person and look at it all was amazing. The other really cool thing about this castle is it looks like the grounds are open to the public as a park to come to and read, soak up the sun, and just absorb the beautiful surroundings and view.

View of Heidelberg From The Castle

View of Heidelberg From The Castle

The view from the top of the castle looks down on the Neckar River and the old town below and has a great view of the part of the town across the river which holds on it’s shores the Buhl house. I couldn’t remember exactly which house it was but I knew that one of those is where my family used to live years ago before they decided to travel across the sea to America.

Matt and Me at the Castle

Matt and Me at the Castle

Inside the castle again we came across a sun dial of sorts on the side of the building. It looks as though you can tell time by it as well as the time of year by where the shadows are cast. There were also symbols of the zodiac on the dial as well.

Sundial Thingie On The Castle Wall

Sundial Thingie On The Castle Wall

Among the lushness of the grounds we found this beautiful view of a part of the castle that was destroyed. It is a tower that has broken in half and fallen to the ground. We all sat there and wondered for awhile on what course of history had caused it to fall in the first place but whatever it was we decided that it was something of consequence that did it.

Me And The Tumbled Tower

Me And The Tumbled Tower

Tumbled Tower

Tumbled Tower

Going into the Castle we found what a wine cellar should really look like. There were these big wooden barrels from ground to ceiling that used to (or may still be in use) filled with wine. That would last for a few good dinner parties I would think. J They actually were selling bottles of wine there as well as offering wine tastings the day we were there but considering it was early yet and we had the whole day ahead of us we decided to pass up the offer.

Now This Is What I Call A Wine Cellar

Now This Is What I Call A Wine Cellar

Outside we marveled at the size of the doors to the castle and we’re awed and a bit chilled by the pointed steel bars that hung over our heads in the gates to the castle. I imagine they would come in handy for those times when uninvited, unfriendly guests arrived looking to take over the humble abode.

Matt At Entrance Of Our House

Matt At Entrance Of Our House

Moving on we said ‘goodbye’ to the castle and I imagined coming back with a great book, some wine and cheese and enjoying a lazy, breezy, summer afternoon on the grounds. Truly a beautiful place and I highly recommend it to anyone coming to this side of the world.

I fully intended to find the Buhl Family Plot in the nearby old town cemetery but time wouldn’t allow for a search like that considering I had no address to go by and only a picture in my head of what the gravesite of my grandfather, great-grandfather and mother, and uncles looked like. I would have really liked to have put some flowers on my grandpa’s grave and said ‘Hello’ to him but I figured that we are living here in Germany and I can go back another time to do that.

So off the three of us went towards our dinner destination of the small country called Luxembourg. The Autobahn was calling us…

The Autobahn

The Autobahn

Categories: Germany, Heidelberg | Leave a comment

The German Language Revealed

Insult or Praise?

Here are some interesting things to know about the German language. First of all, I’ve gone all my life hearing people calling each other ‘Schmucks’ and watching as people get offended by it and I know that there may be a derogatory reason for that but I found it interesting to find out that the word ‘Schmuck’ actually means ‘Jewelry; Ornament; Smart, or Neat’. I don’t know about you but I could think of some worse things to be called.

Would You Rather a Gift or a Present?

Next is the word ‘Gift’. You will never hear a German say they are giving you or anyone else a gift (and if you do then you better watch out) because the word ‘gift’ in German actually means ‘Poison’. I know that having been clued in on that I will be trying to always use the word ‘Present’ instead from now on. I have to admit that I use the word ‘Gift’ a lot in English and have to be very careful not to say that here from now on.

Fun with the German Language

Now for some fun words (for Americans at least). Currently our favorite world in German is Ausfarht (pronounced: Ows fart) which means ‘Exit’. There is also Einfarht which means ‘entrance’ and Matt found the word Wetfarht which is apparently the first lap that a race car makes around a race track or something like that. Yes, it is juvenile we know but it never fails to give us a giggle when we hear someone say any of those words. I guess we never grow up. J

Now Hear This!

I learned a new word the other day too. It’s the word Jetzt (pronounced: Yetz) which simply means ‘Now’. It’s not exciting but was a word that I was seeing everywhere particularly in display windows saying ‘Now ½ price’. It’s a good thing to know if you want to shop I thought.

Sentence of the Week

Now for my new sentence of the week….Ich mochte ein café mocha bitte. This means ‘I would like a café mocha please’. I am very proud to say that today I ordered my own coffee at the local Tchibo coffee shop all by myself and they actually understood what I was saying!!! Ahhh….there’s joy in the little things….and café mocha in the morning!

Categories: Germany, Language | 1 Comment

Our Walk To The Chocolate Factory, Part Two

Our Walk To The Chocolate Factory Part Two

Interesting Architecture Everywhere In Koeln

Interesting Architecture Everywhere In Koeln

Everywhere you go in Germany it is apparent that they are very fond of glass. From buildings to staircases to the hallway that you come out in the airport everything is glass. I don’t think that is bad but sometimes the glass is overlooking the outside and that outside is really high off the ground. My guess is that no one here in Germany is afraid of heights or if they are they don’t live in any of the modern looking buildings that are all around the city.

Roman Remains

Roman Remains

Koeln is an interesting city in that there are remains of the old Roman city everywhere but they live right along side of modern buildings that have been being built since the end of WWII.

We came across an archeological dig in our explorations of the city of Koeln. It was pretty interesting to see up close several people gently dusting of parts of the old Roman city that lay underneath our feet and we didn’t even know it was there. They had certain parts of the uncovered treasure labeled as ‘Jewish Synagogue’ and ‘Baths’.

Jewish Synagague and Baths

Jewish Synagague and Baths

After that we moved on to find other treasures. When we came across two bronze statues in a out of the way alley and Matt’s patient, Monica, explained to us that they are fictional characters that are part of the Koeln sense of humor and that there are jokes told in the pubs there that have contain these guys as the main characters. One is tall and skinny and is cross eyed, the other is short and cubby and clown like in appearance. They looked like a take on Laurel and Hardy to me.

Monica and I Pick Up Some Locals

Monica and I Pick Up Some Locals

I don’t remember what the name of these characters were but I’ll do my best to fill that information in at a later time for you all.

Cardinal Joseph

Cardinal Joseph Frings

Next we came upon a bust of Josef Cardinal Frings who was the Cardinal during the years of 1942 to 1968. Monica explained to us that this Cardinal was very well loved during the post war years because the people of Germany were starving and many of them would steal food so that their families would survive. Cardinal Frings pardoned those people who stole food in order to save their families by telling them that it wasn’t a sin to do that sort of thing during tough times like those that Germany was going through post-WWII.

The Author in Cologne

The Author in Cologne

The next statue we came upon was a depiction of a woman looking down a staircase and on the staircase were these little people. Monica told us that the story of that statue was that there was once a Taylor in Koeln that was so popular that he had so much work he couldn’t keep up and he was wondering how he was going to do all that work.

Then these little elf like creatures began showing up at night to help him and every night he was able to get all his work done. His wife began to get suspicious of how the man was getting all this work done every night by himself. So she put peas on the stairs so that she would be able to catch who ever it was that was helping him with the work and one night she caught these little creatures on the stairs with the peas. From that night on the little people didn’t come back to help the Taylor.

I guess if the wife would have minded her peas and Q’s her husband wouldn’t have had to work so hard…but nooooooooo!!!! J

Monika and I Enjoy An Eic Cafe in The City Center

Monika and I Enjoy An Eic Cafe in The City Center

After a lot of sightseeing we all were hot and tired so it was a great excuse to find a nice outdoor café to enjoy a nice refreshing cold drink. It is here that I discovered the German Iced Coffee. It is a Coffee topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and whip cream on top. It was so decadent and refreshing at the same time. The perfect antidote for sweaty, hot, pedestrian tourists in need of energy and something cool to drink.

Matt By The Rhine River

Matt By The Rhine River

Where we live in Rodenkirchen we are just a few blocks from the Rhine and because of that we can walk from our apartment and follow the Rhine right in to the center of Koeln. It’s a really pretty walk and very peaceful too. Along our walk we can stop and watch the boats going up and down. Some are carrying coal and other products for delivery to some mystery town up or down stream and some have tourists enjoying a cruise on the river and taking in the sights.

Me By The Rhine River, Koeln, Germany

Me By The Rhine River, Koeln, Germany

Well, until my next report we send our love to you all and thought you might want to view a video that I threw together with some more sights of Koeln. The music is by Beethoven which probably would be better suited to a video of Bonn but it was a quickly assembled video and that’s the music I grabbed. The next video will be better. Enjoy!!

Categories: Germany, Germany, Koeln/Cologne, Koeln/Cologne, Video Tours | 1 Comment

Koln, Koeln, Cologne? Where the Heck Do You Live Already??

Where The Heck Do You Live Already???

Many of you may be thinking ‘Okay already, every time you write where you live it is spelled a different way. What’s up with that?’ So let me explain that to you.

The name of the city I live in is Koln (with the two little dots or Umlauts over the O). That is the correct German way to spell the name of this city. It is pronounced Kooln with a bit of a throaty ‘r’ sound that is really not second nature to English speakers. It actually sounds like someone is clearing their throat, mumbling, or started to say something and then decided it wasn’t worth it after all and gave up.

The spelling Koeln is pronounced the same way but is an alternative way to spell the name of the city if you don’t have access to the double dots or umlauts or don’t know any better.

The spelling Cologne, which you will find when making reservations on an airline or various other places is the English way to spell the name of the city and is pronounced Cologne as in eau du cologne which, by the way, originated in this city. Apparently Napoleon used to stay here and the cologne 417 Eau du Cologne was made for him in this city. It can still be purchased here as well.

Categories: Challenges Insights and More, Germany, Koeln/Cologne, Language | Leave a comment

Beethoven in Bonn, Germany

Allen and I wait for the train to Bonn

Allen and I wait for the train to Bonn

On Monday Matt, Allen, and I went to the German City of Bonn. This used to be the Capital City of Germany until the Berlin wall came down. Bonn is also known as the city that Ludwig von Beethoven was born in and lived in until he was around 22 years old. He then moved to Vienna to study with Joseph Hayden.

Beethoven and I pose for the Paparazzi

Beethoven and I pose for the Paparazzi

Upon arrival in Bonn we immediately found the statue that commemorates the city’s most famed citizen right in the center of the square that leads you to the house Beethoven was born in.

Beethoven Goes To The Birds

Beethoven Goes To The Birds

It was not hard to figure out why Beethoven always seemed to have such a stern look on his face in all of the photos and replications of him. One look at the statue and the residents that were perched on his head to figure out that after awhile I would be a bit annoyed too. I mean think of the constant laundering that would have to take place with those types of inhabitants. J

Beethoven House in Bonn

Beethoven House in Bonn

After following the signs to the Beethoven house and a brief stop for lunch Matt, Allen, and I found the infamous spot where the music began…the house where Beethoven was actually born. He was born up in the attic which is the top most window in the house. It is just a very little room with one little window. Records are not sure the exact date of Beethoven’s birth but he was baptized on December 17, 1770 which means that he was born either December 16th or 17th.

Allen and I Admire Beethoven's Piano

Allen and I Admire Beethoven's Piano

Every room in the house contained items that belonged to Beethoven like his manuscripts, scores, letters written such as the now famous love letter addressed only to ‘My Immortal Beloved’. Other rooms contained instruments that actually belonged to Beethoven such as his viola, an organ, and several pianos made especially for him with his name inscribed in them. Unfortunately we were unable to get photos of most of that stuff because our personal photographer…Matt…was scolded for taking photos after only about three were taken.

After we saw all of the house we took part in an interactive display of Beethoven’s music in the theatre that was built in to the basement. It was a different, if not interesting, modern performance of his music using 3D light effects that were controlled somewhat by the participants (us and 15 others) wearing 3D glasses. The music was great of course and the idea of making the show interactive was nice (as was the coolness of the cellar on a hot European day) but the performance was somewhat perplexing as it really didn’t add anything to the music in my opinion.

Bonn City Plaza

Bonn City Plaza

After we were done with the Beethoven house we continued our journey through Bonn city center and admired all the wonderful outside cafes that are so European. Here in the summer people love to take their meals outside in the plazas and people watch. It’s a great way to cool down, enjoy a meal, or have a cool refreshing iced coffee (with ice cream…yummy!) or local beer.

Statue of Children and Geese

Statue of Children and Geese

Walking through another little plaza in the center of Bonn we came upon a statue of children chasing geese. I don’t know the story behind the statue but can imagine it is probably relating to some sort of children’s story or possibly a story about some thing that happened in Bonn that they wanted memorialized.

Matt and Allen with Statue of Children and Geese

Matt and Allen with Statue of Children and Geese

As we continued our journey towards the train at the end of the day we came upon one of many churches that you find in Europe with elaborate artwork and sculptures on the outside of the building. Although we didn’t have the opportunity to go in I can only imagine what treasures were inside considering the elaborate gold murals on the outside of the building.

Church Art in Bonn

Church Art in Bonn

I know we didn’t get to see everything that Bonn has to offer but I know Matt and I will probably take another day trip there to do some shopping. Bonn is known as a great place to do shopping and enjoy a great meal and it is only a half hour train trip from our apartment in Rodenkirchen, Koeln.

Church Carving in Bonn

Church Carving in Bonn

Well that’s it for now. Stay tuned for my report on our trip to Frankfurt. We will be going there on Saturday. Until then I send all my love to all of you.

Categories: Bonn, Germany, Koeln/Cologne | 1 Comment

Our Walk to the Chocolate Factory (Part One)

Lindt Chocolate Factory, Koeln, Germany

Lindt Chocolate Factory, Koeln, Germany

Yesterday Matt and I went for a walk from our apartment in the cute little village of Rodenkirchen (pronounced: Rodenkeerken) just on the outskirts of the city of Koeln (Cologne in English) to see the sites.

Our first stop was the Lindt Chocolate Factory that sits right on the banks of the Rhine River. We were told that originally the factory was owned by a local chocolatier but over the years was bought out by the Swiss chocolate company, Lindt.

We managed to remain in control and not buy any chocolate at all but we did have a lovely lunch of a French style pizza (very thin cracker type crust with mozzarella, scallions, and pieces of ham) and a local Koeln beer called Kolch. All was quite tasty and fortified us enough to continue on our journey into the center of the city.

Statue in Front of Lindt Chocolate Factory

Statue in Front of Lindt Chocolate Factory

As we left the chocolate factory we happened upon this statue. I am not real sure what the significance of it is but I am sure it has something to do with the Rhine due to the fact that the character seems to be pulling on a rope like the type that one would have on a boat. The butt view was nice too but I’ll leave that out of this post for now. 🙂

Next we continued our walk along the Rhine and watched as the boats from Holland and Germany chugged down with loads of coal and other merchandise for the masses.

Matt and I enter the City of Cologne

Matt and I enter the City of Cologne

As we continued on our way to the city we found the remains of the Roman wall that used to surround the center of the city. All over the city of Cologne you will see reminders of the Roman’s control of this city centuries ago. We even came across an excavation site in the center of the city where they were uncovering Jewish baths and a Jewish synagogue. It seemed really strange to have this site being uncovered in the center of a city while a couple was being married at the fairly modern city hall just 500 feet away. History is always being made and constantly being uncovered every day.

Next we continued on to the famous Cologne Cathedral. This cathedral is huge and nearly impossible to get in one picture. It is over 2000 years old and is constantly being updated. Once they are done updating it it is time to start all over again.

One of Matt’s patients was kind enough to show us around the city center and she brought us in to the cathedral and showed us the latest stained glass window.

The Newest Addition To The Cathedral

The Newest Addition To The Cathedral

Apparently the artist who created the new stained glass window used precise mathematical equations to decide where each color would be and the frequency of each color’s appearance.

We were also told that the current, I believe, Archbishop doesn’t like the new window at all. He feels that it is to modern and doesn’t match the rest of the cathedral. I wonder if they are going to leave it or eventually replace it with something more in style with the rest of the building? Regardless I thought it was interesting because of the way it was created but I do admit that it seemed to stick out like a sore thumb in comparison with the rest of the cathedral.

Another interesting thing about the Cathedral is the fact that there is a monument to the ‘Three Kings’ or ‘Three Wise Men’ in there. The moment is encased in Gold and is now fenced around it because apparently people were trying to take chunks of it home with them.

I plan on attending at least one Sunday Mass there just to really get the feel of being in a historical place like that an imagine all the people through the ages that have sat in those same pews.

Matt and I in Front of Cologne Cathedral

Matt and I in Front of Cologne Cathedral

Outside many of the young (and not so young) kids use the plaza in front of the Cathedral as a great skateboarding terrain. I wonder how many of them realize the history that they are skating on and in front of. It’s amazing how we tend to take for granted the things right in front of us and I can imagine some of those kids thinking that that big church is such a waste of skateboarding space. It makes me wonder what things I walk right past in my hometown that I think are a bother or a waste of space but if I really payed attention would tell me something of my history if I would only look and listen.

Well, that’s it for now. Stay tuned for Part Two of our walk to the Chocolate Factory. Until then Matt and I send our love to you all!

Categories: Germany, Koeln/Cologne | 2 Comments

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