Venice Weekend getaway

As stated before, I really hope to use German as my home base and travel around Europe as much as possible while I am living here. My first weekend away combined seeing an old friend from home and visiting a new city. My good friend Kristen and I met freshman year of highschool and danced the next three years together on our school dance team. She just graduated with a degree in Elementary Education and decided to travel to Italy and use her new skills while teaching English at a school in Venice, a great alternative to attending a long drawn out graduation ceremony!

I stayed three nights in Venice, a city that has always fascinated me and I unfortunately missed out on my last two times in Italy. Wine, Cheese, Laughs, Canals, Carbs, Beach, Gelato, Memories, and Shopping would pretty much sum up our time together and I loved every minute of it! I had been disappointed with my previous food experiences in Italy, always spending too much in tourist areas for food that is just so-so. I wouldn’t even say that we ventured far off the tourist path, but were somehow rewarded with delicious meals! I devoured the best pesto fettuccine I have ever had, tried hard to stay on my half of our shared Crème brûlée, and sipped on refreshing Prosecos at least once a day.

Kristen had saved a lot of the shopping and sight-seeing until the end, after she was done with teaching and while I was there, so that was just perfect. We took the ferry to Murano to purchase some authentic glass pieces. Enjoyed two lazy afternoons on the nearby island of Lido – basically a giant sandbar turned ritzy town a short ferry ride from Venice. Toured many of the main sights including the Piazza San Marco during all times of the day, but I think our night visit was my favorite. The surrounding buildings were lit up and  bands played traditional Italian music at the outdoor restaurants. While in Venice, I took an unecessary amount of gondola and gondolier pictures, but I just couldn’t stop. I felt like they were constantly posing and the image of a gondolier man in his striped shirt and hat, standing against a light post, near a canal, with an old building behind him is too “Italian” not to document. Oh it was everything I had hoped it would be.

It was wonderful seeing a familiar face from home and reminiscing together. Unfortunately, life gets busy and it took a trip to Italy together to completely catch up on the last few years. This was a good reminder to not let jobs, school, and day-to-day stresses get in the way of the relationships one has with their friends and family… this was lesson #1. Lesson #2 would be to NOT travel to Italy and eat like it is going out of style ONE week before your wedding.

Our German Wedding is in less than 7 days! Oh yes 🙂

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Really Luxembourg, Really?!?!

The small country of Luxembourg has more money than they know what to do with. They have an excellent Social System and with $74,430 USD per capita, they have the second highest Gross National Income in the World (Germany is $42,560 and the US is $47,270). Their highways are lined with lights, their buildings are pristine, and they have countless statues, fountains, and monuments in the city. While I appreciate the aesthetics of the country, I can’t help but judge them for spending money on such ridiculous things. This is a junior high kids dream not necessarily something a leading financial country should invest in… COLORED TOILET PAPER! Can you imagine how much more fun it would have been to TP with this stuff?!?!?! At 1€ a roll, you can easily match your toilet paper to the rest of your bathrooms decor. Can anyone say spoiled ass 😉

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I am loving the Orchids!

I think it’s pretty fair to say that nearly every home around has between 1 and 20 Orchids growing in the window sill and I love it! You can buy them everywhere, they are fairly inexpensive, they somehow bloom all the time, and I feel the need to follow suit and have them line my windows in our new apartment. (side note, we are moving to the flat downstairs in the middle of July! That’s right we will pack up and move down 1 flight of stairs, sure beats moving halfway around the world… this will be a much easier adjustment!) Anyways, the Orchids seem to be in full bloom year round and as you walk along the streets and peak into windows (yes, I do that!) you can see Orchids in almost every home. I think they are very calming and I can’t wait to “be German” and have a whole slew of them 🙂

Posted in A-HOME LIFE | 5 Comments

This is even worse than being a couch potato!

This bedding was at a store in Luxemburg and is written in French, but the English-speaking Chelsea couldn’t help but read it in my own immature way. A “couch tard”… is that kind of like a couch potato? Is it worse than being a lazy ass? AND no, I do not want that written on my linens AND yes, I work with children and find stupid things like this funny 🙂

Posted in C- LANGUAGE | 3 Comments

Toad Migration

This is a real thing! Norman had once mentioned this to me, I saw the signs on my way to work, and now I have found dozens of articles explaining the “event” that takes place twice a year. Obviously this is an important issue and I feel a little guilty finding humor in the whole situation, but the signs are just too cute and the image of hundreds of toads hopping around makes me laugh 🙂

““The toad migration started at the beginning of March, and then there was a pause during the cold weather, but now it is full on,” said Andreas Krone, from the German Nature Protection Association (BUND).

He said around 250 toad fences are registered across Germany – along the sides of roads which cross the migratory routes the amphibians take to reach their breeding ponds. These save at least half a million toads, frogs and newts each year, he said.

Each ten or 15 metres along the fences, which themselves are only a few inches high but run up to 800 metres alongside the road – a bucket is planted in the ground to catch the animals intent on crossing the road.

These buckets are attended at least once a day by the volunteers, who carefully take the amphibians across the road so they can continue their journeys.

The most common amphibian in Germany is the toad. “They travel up to two kilometres to reach their breeding ponds – further than any other species. That is why they are particularly endangered,” said Krone.

New roads which cut through such routes are now automatically built with little toad tunnels running under them to provide safe passage for the amphibians, but the older roads require the services of the toad volunteers.

Matthias Freude, president of the Brandenburg Environment Office said it was a shame that their engagement was often laughed at. “Without them, the amphibians would be much worse off,” he said.

He said a few days ago 500 frogs were carried across a road in one morning. “Each season there are about 12,000 at that spot, and one has to assume that otherwise between a third and half of them would be run over.”

The toad fence was erected there after lorry drivers called the authorities asking for something to be done to prevent the slaughter, saying they were driving through mashed up toads.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)”

Posted in B- CULTURE | 1 Comment

June wedding… less than a month!

I spent one day shopping with Ramona (Norman’s mom) and another day with Kathrina and Nadine (his sisters) and we found their dresses for the June ceremony. I am going to have the most beautiful little sister in laws ever!

As with everything else, it was easy! Sometimes I wonder how it can all fall into place so nicely, but that’s the luck that Norman and I have always had. Looking back, many aspects of our relationship should have been harder… time difference, traveling, bad internet connections, oceans seperating the two of us, etc…. but it has always worked out ok, no better than ok, it has been great!

I am debating if and when we should share the photos from our June ceremony. Norman’s good friend is a professional photographer and will be documenting BOTH of our special days. Because two ceremonies are not common in the American tradition, I am wondering if I should post pictures of the June ceremony before our October celebration…. what do you think? I’m sure family and friends will be anxious, but because its uncommon to most of the, I don’t want to take away from the second ceremony.

Posted in E- WEDDING PLANS | 2 Comments

I love my job!

I quickly realized that to make my life in Germany feel like MY life, I knew that I had to work with kids. I really miss teaching and knew that I wouldn’t be happy working in a back office or with adults. I prefer sticky, icky, smelly, laughing, crying children anyday! I completely lucked out and found something that is just perfect! I found a British family living in Luxemburg. I work Monday-Wednesday nannying their two little boys, I coach Socatots with the dad on Saturdays, and together I have started my own program and coach dance on Thursdays and Saturdays.  All the classes are taught in English, which is part of their appeal to local parents. I work with children who are native English speakers, children who speak English as a second language, and some who don’t speak any English at all. They watch us and follow along and are slowly learning basic words, ie colors, numbers, polite greetings, etc. I don’t have full time hours, but it’s giving me a lot of time to explore the area and work on my German (which is slowly but surely coming along). Check out this quick video of Socatots, it’s not our program in Luxemburg, but you will the get idea. My kids are ages 2-6 and it is so flipping adorable 🙂  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBtnIfWS1EQ

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