Sunday, September 28, 2008

Chocolate, Fest, Pumpkins, and American Shopping!

September 27-28, 2008 Lisa Marie and I took a short trip to Stuttgart for the weekend! There was a lot going on in Stuttgart! We started our trip with a stop at the Riter Sport Chocolate Factory just outside of Stuttgart!!! The trip was educational and of course delicious! The wonderfulness of this stop came to fruition when we got our free sample at the end of the museum and then saw all of our chocolate choices in the gift shop (ok, we took a sneak peak before walking through the museum!!) The gift shop had flavors not sold in stores (raspberry yogurt and blood orange yogurt!) Saturday evening was spent at the Cannstatter Volksfest - lots of food, games, rides, and beer tents. After exploring every corner of the fair, riding the ferris wheel, and shopping in the market we went back to our hotel on post and watched Dante's Peak and passed out from exhaustion! (let's be honest, we were both pretty tired from our social activities the night before - a band of fellow employees at the hausberg for me; oktoberfest and cold play concert for lisa marie) Sunday, Lisa Marie and I went to the world's largest pumpkin exhibit!! This year's theme is "Journey to the Stars" - including zodiac signs, an ufo, the mars rover, an astronaut, and a rocket! A pumpkin fest wouldn't be complete without some pumpkin soup! Lisa Marie and I were hoping there would be pumpkin soup but we had our doubts...but oh man were we proved wrong - there were limitless pumpkin food options! Our very orange meal consisted of pumpkin soup, pumpkin quiche, and pumpkin wine!! what a very, very orange meal! After all this it was time to make our way to Stuttgart's huge PX! We spent an embarassingly long time in the PX because it was extremely overwhelming compared to our super, super small PX in Garmisch! We seriously felt like we were in Target or a large department store! We found a lot of great buys and were happy to be spending dollars instead of euros! but somehow that still didn't help when we saw the damage we had done at the cash register! Broke and tired, our weekend had yet again flown by! Another great trip! My favorite part of the weekend was the pumpkin festival, hands down! The weather was great and felt like fall and oddly enough the pumpkin festival reminded me of home - too bad there weren't hay rides! I'll have to let you know how Stuttgart's Volksfest compares to Oktoberfest - stay tuned. more pictures

The fair from the Ferris Wheel

Lisa Marie and I on the Ferris Wheel

The "Ich Liebe Dich" (I Love You) cookies at fest - the cookies have other sayings on them as well but these candy stands are very common - cookies, candied almonds and other nuts, etc.

Pumpkin Exhibit at Ludwigsburg!

Me with my sign, Taurus the Bull

Mars Rover exhibit!

Our very orange meal - pumpkin wine, pumpkin soup, and pumpkin quiche :)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Life Outside of Traveling...yes, it exists

So here's just a general update about what's going on in my life outside of traveling all the time!

Work: I'm still working in the IT Department full-time. Soon (maybe 2 weeks...the date keeps getting pushed back and details keep changing) I will be working part-time in IT, part-time in the Human Resources Office. I'm excited for this change! I could use a change of pace at work and think the two jobs will complement each other very well! Here are a few pictures of me at work that Mom took while she was visiting.

Me in my uniform with my work car!

My desk at work

Me in the server room! (Courtney took this one for the employee appreciation party slideshow)

Roommate: Terri and I have been the best roommates I could have ever asked for! We're still thoroughly enjoying each other's company. We enjoy catching the 7:00pm AFN (Armed Forces Network) movie, reading books, watching Army Wives, cooking dinner (especially chicken tacos), going out for Indian food, and staying up late talking about random things when we can't sleep! Somehow we haven't really gone on a trip together since I got here but we are going to Sweden for Thanksgiving! We're getting ready to move furniture around again so I'll post some pictures after the move...we're always getting new furniture and new ideas for our room layout - I like the change - each time it seems to get better! :)

Me: So I think the biggest thing going on with me right now is the annoying fact that I've had an eye infection since Courtney and I went to Croatia 4th of July weekend. I've been wearing my glasses since then (occasionally wearing my contacts when I travel or go out at night) but I'm still having some problems seeing 100%. I finally went to a real eye doctor (not the general doctor in Mittenwald) and she said the eye infection is now gone but my eyes are really dry...although I don't think the eye drops she gave me are helping to hydrate my eyes...So that's why you'll see several pictures with me wearing my glasses - no, they're not new - I've had bad eyes since forever!

Weather: It's winter here!! OK not really but close enough! It got cold here super fast! One day it was cold and rainy and the sun never came back after that! The days are usually in the high 50's, low 60's and the nights are in the 40's. Time for hot chocolate and the heater! Snow enthusiasts have started traveling to nearby towns to ski/snowboard! and there's definitely snow on the Zugspitze (the tallest mountain in Germany and consequently, the mountain that overlooks Garmisch!). I'm not ok with this! Where was fall?!

French Riviera and Monaco

September 19 - 22, 2008 In our last attempt to hold onto summer, Lisa Marie, Kari, and I drove to the French Riviera!! We left after work on a Friday with a campsite in the Ligurian Riviera area planned. I had been in touch with the campsite to make sure we could arrive as late as 11pm. No problem they said! Well...upon arrival their story changed and they said we could only set up our tent if we were staying for three nights!! Funny how they didn't mention that in the email - and yes, I made it very clear that we would only be staying one night. We looked for another campsite but we only found mobile-home sites and couldn't even find a secluded enough spot to set up our tent, so we ended up sleeping in my car! Not exactly what we wanted to do after a 7ish hour drive...but oh well! The next day we made our way down the coast towards Monaco!!! We stopped in San Remo for the Saturday morning market - a crazy place full of pashmina scarves, clothes, toys, shoes, purses, leather goods, etc. and a great fresh fruit and vegetable market including several bakeries with some of the best Foccacia bread! After San Remo, we found ourselves in Monaco...weaving in out of the Lamborghinis and Ferraris in front of the Monte Carlo Casino! Next on our list, a beach!!! anywhere! While driving towards Antibes (our destination for a campsite!) we stopped in Eze at a pretty secluded beach for the afternoon! Finally making it to Antibes we found a campsite and couldn't have been happier knowing that we were going to be able to stretch out our legs and get a good night's sleep! Sunday morning we were awoken by sounds of thunder!! Yes, a huge thunder storm was overhead and there was a torrential downpour in addition to lightening and thunder! Thank goodness the tent held up pretty well - better than most tents! Dreading leaving the tent, we mustered the energy and courage to face the rain and made our way to Grasse, the perfume capital of the world, and Biot, a glass-blowing factory city. Grasse smelled like perfume from the moment we stepped out of the car. We went to the Fragonard museum to see how perfume is made and then smelled lots and lots of perfumes - on a mission to find the perfect scent for ourselves! We walked around town to see what else there was but each ended up returning to Fragonard to buy a particular scent. I bought a fabulous scent called Miranda, a vanilla musk perfume. In Biot we went to the glass-blowing factory and saw 4 or 5 men work their way around the shop with hot glass. Upon our return to Antibes, we explored the harbor and were then at a loss for what else to do that evening - not wanting to go back to the campsite. We had just about given up on Antibes and were ready to go make PBJ sandwiches at the tent when we finally discovered the pedestrian area!! Alive and welcoming! All of a sudden we found renewed hope and were shopping and excitedly checking out our food options - crepes, gelato, paninis :) all sorts of good stuff ;) Dinner was spent on a curb, eating paninis and people watching :) Monday we began our long trip home but first we spent the morning in Nice! The fountains, the Antique Market in the old part of town, the Harbor, etc. Overall, we had a great trip! and even when the weather was less than optimal, we found plenty to see and do! more pictures

Big Rolls of Cheese!


Myself, Kari, and Lisa Marie above Monaco

Streets of Grasse, perfume capital of the world






The beach of Nice!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ice Hockey Game, Medieval Fest, and One Republic Concert

September 12-14, 2008 A random, yet very eventful weekend...Friday night was the season opener SC Riesersee Ice Hockey game! An exciting event for sure - the chants, the cheers, the flag waving, etc! and of course my favorite, the team choo-choo train after the win! This is horrible, but don't ask me who they played -- I really just go to the games for the atmosphere!

Myself, Kari, and Lisa Marie at the ice hockey game!

Saturday: Sebastian drove Terri, Traci, Charles, and I to Fussen for the big "homecoming" festival for the cows. At the end of the summer there is a parade to celebrate the cows returning to their winter pastures! If no cows from the heard died from illness or natural disaster during the summer, then the heard will be decorated with flowers!

Lead cow decorated with flowers!

More cows coming home!

Medieval fest in Partenkirchen!

lots and lots of delicious food stands!! including the "bread house"

putting shoes on the horses!

story time with puppets



one of the many decorative costumes at the fair!

band in the middle of the street

Sunday: Carrie and I took the train to Munich to wander around before our big night...ONE REPUBLIC live!! Due to an overlooked word, we mistook one train stop for another and ended up at the Oktoberfest site. So I took a few pictures of the site knowing that next time I'll see it I will not be as worried about taking pictures. Then, we found our right train stop and visited the Moderne Pinakothek. We made it just in time before the museum closed. Then, we began our adventure to meet Laura at the East Bahnhof station! We had 1/2 hour to meet her -- plenty of time! Unfortunately none of the trains were running to this station, so we had to catch a train leaving town and then come back into town. Finally, meeting up with Laura, we hurried to the concert venue and enjoyed the music of The Script, a hot Irish band! (check out their song, We Cry on YouTube!) and then saw One Republic!!! whom were way better in concert than recorded on their CD!!! Great Concert!! *This was our last outing with Laura in the Garmisch area - she just moved to Heidelberg for a position with the University of Maryland* Unfortunately, at this moment in my life I decided it was a good time to pretend to be a minimalist and didn't take my camera, which I now regret :( but the concert was amazing! The venue was pretty small - a long, skinny, rectangular room so it was a cozy group!

Below are a few pictures from the Moderne Pinakothek Museum:

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


August 29-September 1, 2008 Courtney, Lisa Marie, and I flew up to Belgium for Labor Day long awaited trip to Belgium! Our first stop was Brussels for 2 days, 1 night. Our hostel, The Moon Hotel, was in a great location - we were in the same square as the market...just steps away from the Grand Place! I had my DK eyewitness Top 10 book out all weekend to guide us towards all the "must sees." We met up with an Alpha Phi (my college sorority) alumnae, Anne, and her friend, Christine, for some sightseeing and Belgian beer. Unfortunately, Anne wasn't up for dinner as she had just gotten back from Paris but she did point out a few of her favorite thai restaurants on this row of solely Thai restaurants. After receiving our dishes, Lisa Marie and I both, at about the same time, ate what we thought was 1/2 of a cherry tomato, which ended up setting our mouths on FIRE for the rest of the evening! Guess it wasn't a tomato and we learned our lesson! Before leaving Brussels we checked out an art exhibit, showcasing the work of Jurgen Schadeberg (per Anne's suggestion). Then it was off to Brugge for 2 days and 2 nights via an hour train ride. As we were walking from the Brugge train station to the restaurant where we met the canalhouse owner I was melting over the adorably cute houses! When we met Fleur, the owner, she showed us the canalhouse and I was so excited because we were staying in one of those cute and adorable houses, water/canal front!! The room was pretty large - mini kitchen, full bathroom, double bed, and a twin bed. Downstairs we had access to a full kitchen where Fleur left fresh bread for us each morning including jams, nutella, meats, and cheeses. We didn't do anything too daring in Brugge - just a lot of sightseeing and waffle eating. Brugge was more expensive than we had expected. We had a hard time finding decent priced meals. A margherita pizza was average of 9 euros, roughly $13.50 - not that we ate pizza while we were there but just to compare - the most we usually pay for a margherita pizza is 4 euros. All in all, we were happy with our decision to split our 4 days between Brussels and Brugge (instead of also trying to fit in Antwerp and Ghent) and thoroughly enjoyed the pommes frites, waffles, chocolates, and beer! Now that we're home we all wish we had brought more chocolate home!! C'est la vie... more pictures

Le Cornet, Grand Place, Brussels
The outline of the roofs resembles the stern of a galleon. This building complex used to be the guildhouse of the boatmen.

Lisa Marie, Anne (Alpha Phi Alumnae), her friend (Christine), Me, Courtney

Houses across from our canal house in Brugge

Markt, central marketplace, of Brugge

One of many scenic-canal views