Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dissapointed and Anxious.

Joe and I stayed home today to wait for our "Unaccompanied Baggage" shipment of kitchen goods and my spinning wheel to arrive today, which it did around 10am.

After hanging the curtains, I pulled out my wheel and realized that I had forgotten to pack any spinning fiber in the basket. Great. Spinning wheel and nothing to spin! At least a local shepherdess has promised to send me some fleece as a welcome present soon.

We started unpacking the boxes and putting things away, and when we were getting to the bottom we realized that we were still missing stuff. A lot of stuff. An ENTIRE BOX OF STUFF.

My blue and white Japanese bowls
Most of our drinking glasses, including Joe's collection of pub pint glasses
A few pots
My jars of tea
ALL the silverware

The boxes are unmarked, and Joe is not hopeful that the lost box will be able to be found. I'm trying to be optimistic, as some of that stuff is irreplaceable. This discovery effectively took the wind out of our sails, and we have been moping around our now-cluttered apartment ever since.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Out of the Hotel!

We're in an apartment! We decided to take another look at the place on base that they were offering us, weighed the pros and cons of living in that apartment and living on base, and decided to take it!

It is much smaller than the house we are coming from, but we expected that. It has a nice new kitchen, dishwasher, washer/dryer, and lots of closets.
It does not have any outside living space, but it looks over a grassy park/playground area, and has good light and windows that can be opened. It is walking distance to the PX, the Commissary, and either of the schools I may be working at, so we can probably avoid buying a second car.
It is also walking distance to the train station and the downtown shopping area. It also has parking. So all in all we expect it to work out well for us :) I haven't lived in the same house for 3 years since moving out of my parents' house! Hope I don't get too bored of it!

No pictures for now because we don't have wireless internet yet, and I don't have my photos on Joe's computer.

Our "Short Shipment" of stuff is being delivered on Tuesday! In this shipment is our kitchen stuff (pots, pans, dishes, etc) and MY SPINNING WHEEL! I am very excited :)

German class is going well, but it is a bit slow for me and Joe, who have experience learning other languages. I got a 97% on my midterm.

We will have a landline phone soon and will be able to call the US for free! We do not yet have cell phones though, which is a little inconvenient. We were discouraged to learn that there are no All-of-Europe plans, only German plans.

Email me if you have questions!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Bacharach, Rheinstein Castle, and Cologne

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Click any picture to visit the flickr page with the rest of the set!

For Labor Day weekend J and I had hoped to do a nice, long, European adventure, perhaps to Amsterdam or Prague or Austria, but since we needed to have our rental car back Monday morning, and had things to do on Friday morning, that really didn't leave us much time. Also, apparently we need to get a special pass to drive in Austria AND our friends there were busy. So we stayed in the general area and did some exploring.

When we took our Rhine cruise, we passed a little town called Bacharach that we wanted to visit, so Friday after our errands we drove down the river. Driving down the river is not nearly as scenic as taking the boat, and some of the castles you can't even see from the road! But while the boat took 3 hours to reach Bacharach, we were there in about one hour. Unfortunately it was raining.

Not the best day for touring, but it wasn't too cold so we braved the rain and hiked around the vineyards, old towers and ramparts, and took pictures of the ruined church that is now an amphitheater. Back down in the village (full of lovely half-timbered houses) we found an inviting little restaurant for lunch where the owner spoke English.
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While eating our lunch, J happened to notice a few photos and a signed paper above our heads on the wall. Upon closer inspection it turned out to be a signed photo of Gackt the Japanese Pop Star! Apparently he had been visiting the town while shooting a movie, and the restaurant owners got a picture with him and a note from him! How random! The owner heard us talking about it and showed us a collection of photos that the production company had sent of Gackt around Bacharach. Small world!
Gackt in Germany!

After lunch the rain began to lessen, and we decided to climb up to the castle we had driven by on the way there. As we arrived the rain stopped and the sun came out!
I LOVED Rheinstein Castle. It is a small, cozy castle high on a cliff above the Rhine, with two lovely garden courtyards with fantastic views. It's a museum now, with the rooms decorated as they were for the Archbishop of Mainz. The pictures of this fairy-tale place speak for themselves I think!
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Saturday we drove up to Cologne, to see the huge Cathedral and some art museums. Unfortunately we got a late start, and hit rain on the way, so we didn't reach our destination until after 2pm. J had never been to a Gothic Cathedral before, (not even St. Patrick's in NY!) so this was a big deal for him! The cathedral is awe-inspiring, and we enjoyed the stained glass, but it's not in my top 5.
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Koln Dom

After the cathedral we had lunch at a Mexican/Italian restaurant with horrible service. That's one thing somewhat annoying about the "No Tipping" thing here. The servers already get paid by the hour, and people don't generally tip, so there is no incentive for them to be nice to you. It took us over an hour and a half to get an order of fajitas and a burrito. At least the food was surprisingly decent.

After lunch it was getting late and we only had time for one museum, so we visited the Wallraf-Richartz Museum. This impressive museum houses artwork covering every genre from the 13th century through the 19th century, but has an especially large collection of medieval devotional artwork (which I was not particularly interested in). We need to go back so we can visit the Ludvig Museum that has an amazing collection of art from WWII onward.

We took a detour through the German countryside on our way home.
Cows near Koln

Sunday and Monday were spent going to BBQs, doing laundry, going to my knitting group and the grocery store, and studying in the park for our German class.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Rhine River Cruise!

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To celebrate the end of summer, J and I went on a river boat cruise up and down a romantic section of the Rhine River. The Rhine runs from Switzerland to Holland, but the most scenic part is between Wiesbaden and Koblenz. Due to funds and time we took it from Wiesbaden to St. Goar. If you are going to do the cruise, buy the day pass online at www.k-d.com and save a bunch off the ticket price.

Also plan on taking the train home because going upstream, as we learned, takes FOREVER!

We got on the boat around 10am, and it was bright and sunny, but the day was only going to get up to about 70 degrees. It has been fairly hot here, so I'm glad I looked up the weather for Saturday in advance and knew it would be cool! When the wind kicked in we were quite cold sitting on the roof of the ship, but that's where the best view is.

This stretch of river has 9 riverside towns, 12 castles, 2 monuments, and innumerable vineyards climbing the steep slopes of the river. Apparently, the slate of the mountain sides holds in the heat after the sun goes down, making the grapes that grow on them sweeter than those grown on the flat fields above the river, making for better wine.

We reached At. Goar around 1pm, and hat lunch at the Hotel Markt, recommended by Rick Steves in his Germany 2009 guide. The Rick Steves guide so far has been pretty good in terms of detailed and interesting information and recommendations on attractions and food, however the city we are living in he suggests you "Too big and too famous, Don't waste your time on it". HA!

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I had Saurbrauten, which I didn't know was a specialty of this area, with a glass of local Spatenbruger white wine. It was delicious! I keep attempting to like potato dumplings and failing though :(

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We did not have time to visit the castle, but it's supposed to be one of the more interesting ones to go in. The castle directly across the river looks like it has been renovated, and the guidebook said that a rich Japanese guy bought it in the 90's, intending to make it a Japanese destination resort, but his proposed plans and additions to the property were turned down by the German government, and he simply abandoned the idea! I think it's empty now, which is a shame because it would make a great hotel.
"Japanese" Castel
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Here's my other favorite shots from the trip! All there was to do on the boat was eat, drink, and take pictures, as I FORGOT MY KNITTING!

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Go HERE to see the rest of the set!