Category Archives: Travel

All about traveling and enjoying life, no matter where you find yourself. Have fun there is plenty of time for seriousness.

The Journey Home: Halloween German Style


Happy Halloween

Ever since Halloween was introduced to Germany in 1994 by a German businessman, Halloween has become a $245 billion business. Pretty good, for a holiday that isn’t traditionally European.

Yep, my last year here I was going to dress up for Halloween. I have had other Halloweens here but I never dressed up.  I usually end up with my husband and I passing out candy for the little German children who exclaimed, “Streich oder Süßigkeit” (“trick or candy”-the closet translation of American’s “trick or treat“). The children sometimes also say, “Süßes oder Saures”, which means sweets or sours.

Zombie Demon Queen was my specialty for the night.

This year I decided to head out on the town. My costume of choice? Why the ever so popular zombie, of course. My Journey Home series usually tells my story through words, but this time I will let the photographs speak for themselves. Just know that as in the US Halloween is a fun time. A time to be whatever and whoever you want to be without being judged. For a country who hasn’t embraced the theme of Halloween for too long, the German definitely readily adapt. Of course, the Germans always seem to find a way for everyone to enjoy time together and create lively memories. So without further ado, here are mine. Enjoy!

It was a good night and everyone was very excited to pose for pictures.

 

The Journey Home: The Hiccup


English: Germany, Bavaria, Burglengenfeld, his...

In the end there is always a hiccup…a surprise that no one ever meant to deal with. Besides our usual knowledge of what a hiccup is, the dictionary has another description. A hiccup can be described as- a minor difficulty, interruption, or setback. Here is the story of my “hiccup”…

Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.
Arnold Bennett

Picking up your life and moving to another place, even one familiar to you, is never easy. There is bound to be hiccups as one prepares for a journey.

As I made the rounds of parties, and coming together with friends wishing my family and I well for our journey in three weeks. I didn’t think I would be writing the fourth installment of my journey from a hospital room.

Oh, don’t worry, I have a nice view. The hospital, called a Krakenhaus in German, sits on a hill. In my room a table has been placed by massive windows which over look the city.  The day is cold and gray but inside I am warm and cozy. The trees are in the middle of shedding their leaves in preparation for the coming winter. The leaves’ bright colors contrast with the gray sky. Beneath my window lies a small area with a man-made pond surrounded by the same trees I see from my view. The pond holds colorful Koi fish among lily pads that seem conveniently placed, and wooden benches are near by for people, which beckon you to sit and enjoy the surroundings.

I look longingly out the window wishing to be home, but knowing that I must stay. I am here due to the “hiccup” in my health. Argh, only two weeks to go before I fly over the ocean back to the US of A. Here I am stuck in a hospital (sigh). At least my roommate is nice, although the language barrier makes it difficult to converse. We still try  to learn more about each other and my German seems to be okay in some cases.Somehow we get our meanings across and sometimes we don’t an sit in companionable silence.

I have more to tell you a little of my roommate and her husband. They are a sweet elderly couple around 79 and 80 years of age. I will call them Frau and Herr M. Frau M, tells me her and her husband have been married for 53 years! Herr M, whose English is limited is still better

Wow, I hope to be able to tell a young couple one day that my husband and I have been together for as long as 53 years. They are so sweet to each other. Herr M is ever so doting on Frau M. It makes the marriage seem even more romantic. Having Frau M as a roommate has alleviated the boredom of being in the hospital. Even with our language barrier, both Frau M and I give it a good try.

I really don’t have much more to tell, accept that I must take some tests, and I am on the hospital’s time when it comes to answers. The staff is nice and regardless of where you’re hospitalized, the food is always wanting. The nice thing here is that you have a little more freedom than in US hospitals. I can go for walks around the hospital grounds. There is even a hillside which leads to a church which sit atop another hill above the hospital.

Once I am freed into the real world I will write of my outings with friends, the nostalgic reminiscing, and the bonds created over the years. As usual, until then Auf Wiedersehen.

The Journey Home: The Final Countdown


Linderhof Palace
Linderhof Palace (Photo credit: San Diego Shooter)

The time for the family to leave Germany is coming fast. It seems when time is short everything happens at once. Friends want to hang out with you, there are things that “must” be completed, and then you’re living out of suitcases.

The movers came and took the last of our things. Everything we have left must either fit in our suitcases or be given away. I was a lost, because I had to give my comfy blanket up in the middle of German Fall (which can be very cold). Luckily, my neighbor next door took pity on me and gave me some warm blankets to console myself in.

The weekend before I partied with friends and took plenty of photos.I drove up to Heidelberg one last time to see my son, who is staying on in Germany to attend school, and visit the castle there. As I drive through the countryside I spy many places and things I never knew were there after five years of living in Germany. Now the fields and building stand  in stark contrast, with my own memories and the new images combined.

German Woods
German Woods (Photo credit: Franco Rabazzo)

I will definitely miss the relaxing drives through Bavaria, and the forests that remind me of Hansel and Gretel. I will miss the freedom of walking or biking everywhere-without worry of criminal acts waiting in the shadows. I will miss the lazy Sundays, which mean everything is closed, except for restaurants and gas stations. This means no excuses for not hanging with your family for Sunday Dinner.

The historical center of Schöckingen in Baden-...

Love my Schweinebraten!

The friends I have made here will be sorely missed. These friends took the time to help my family and I mesh into the German culture. We learned how to really party at a fest, enjoy a German meal, and learn a new language. We still have some time before we board the plane back to the other side of the world. Until then, I am going to make the most of my days I have left to enjoy in Germany. So for now, Auf Wiedersehen.

The Time For haunting Is Upon Us


Belief in ghosts and evil spirits has been around for many years. The Celts practiced Halloween then known as Samhain (it is pronounced sow-en) in what we now know as the United Kingdom. Halloween practices were meant to signal the end of Summer and wearing masks and costumes worn by villagers to ward off evil spirits.

Today people know Halloween as a fun day for children snag some free candy and for adults to get together and become someone else for one evening of the year. But the best thing about Halloween are the haunted house and places both real and imaginative. One haunted place I know of , my own house, where our ghosts are even more active when this time of year comes around. Yes, really, my house is active with the usual doors closing on their own, shadows passing swiftly in the blink of an eye, chairs rocking on their own, and disembodies voices and footsteps.

In the beginning it was startling to know you were alone in the house, but you weren’t. My entire household has experienced some sort of paranormal phenomenon while living in the house. Now, the sounds and poltergeist (the German word for “noisy ghost”) activity are just a normal part of our time here in Germany.  The history of the area we live in certainly explains why some of these things are happening. The town we lived in was actually the housing area for SS German Officer and their families. It’s possible that some of them have lingered on and do not realize that their time has past. Of course, our family is not alone in this experience.

Germany with it’s rich history of change and violence lend the perfect atmosphere for continual hauntings. In Darmstadt, Germany sits the Frankenstein Castle, which some say inspired author Mary Shelly‘s story “Frankensein”, is used as a haunted house once a year.This year you can visit Frankenstein’s Castle on weekends from October 24th to November 9th to scare yourself silly with monsters jumping out of the shadows. Frankenstein’s Castle is also rumored to actually be genuinely haunted and was even investigated by Syfy’s popular show, Ghost Hunters.

Arbeit Macht Frei-Works Makes You Free

Another place I have visited myself is the Dachau Concentration Camp which is also rumored to be haunted with the spirits of the prisoners kept there. It is located the city of Dachau, not too far from Munich, Germany and is the only concentration camp that was open through the entire WWII. The strange feelings start when you  reach entrance of  the iron gate which reads, “Arbeit Macht Frei“, which translates to “Work Makes You Free“. Ironically, the words meant to give hope actually was more of a reminder of the hopelessness of captivity. Inside the vistors walk the very path that Jews, and other people who opposed Germany’s position, walked and gave up everything they had. The somber cloud creates a haunting atmosphere and you never feel alone as you walk through the camp. The sadness is heavy and the tours are very quiet and the ovens are even more unsettling.

So the question is are you a believer or skeptic? Either way there are many places in Germany in which hauntings occur. Where the dead and the living intermingle, and once a year on All Hallows Eve, if we’re lucky they might show themselves to us. Take a look at some other places in Germany you can visit for a ghostly experience of your own. Happy Hauntings!

Eltz Castle is rumored to be haunted by medieval kinights and “Mad” King Ludwig himself.

Haunted Places In Germany, Frankensteins Castle, Haunted Castles And Creepy Places.

 

The Journey Home: The Trip To University


 

In my last post I laid out my emotions on having to move back to the US. Of course, there are always more things to do to get ready for the big move. One mission we had to get done was to get my oldest son Nick settled into university. Sounds easy right? Well, our family never does easy.

We left late in the day for our three-hour trip to Heidelberg, Germany. It was the road trip I never got to take when I was younger. Now, I was taking the trip with my two sons Nick and Joey. It was a happy and sad day because the rest of the family would be heading to Texas and Nick would be staying on in Germany to attend school at Schiller International University. How fast time has flown. I still imagined him the little boy wo loved to make things out of anything he could find. He looks so much like his dad, but he acts so much like me. He reminds me of the young idealist I was his age.

English: Heidelberg Castel and Bridge, Germany.
English: Heidelberg Castle and Bridge, Germany. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Heidelberg is a large city north of Bavaria. Needless to say, even with the GPS we got lost among the streets and   homes. We roamed the city looking for the school which had moved to another place. The old building was in an influential and quaint neighborhood. Like most buildings in Germany this building was old and reminded us of Hogwarts. We traveled back and forth across the bridge that took us over the River Rhine. The setting was picturesque, but we were on a time line for school registration. Ahhhh.

We finally found the school, but it was closing time and of course had to come back the next day, which meant staying the night in Heidelberg. So we made the best of it, the boys and I headed to the Orchid Royal Thai restaurant. We had spotted it during our lost hours and hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast. It was so wonderful and made me look forward to seeing my mom and eating her Thai cooking.

The next day was long and Nick was able to snag the last room in the old dorm across the city where the old school was located. This was it! Nick got his apartment keys, met some of  the other students, and we were saying our good-byes. As I drove away I looked in the rear view mirror and watched as Nick became smaller and smaller. It wasn’t good-bye forever, but it was good-bye to an old chapter in life for our whole family.

Nick- “Mom, this is a new chapter in my life.”

Me- “Yes it is…yes it is Nick.”

Companionable silence…

Our last dinner was spent here. The place was great on food and ambiance.
Image of Heidelberg from Castle
Image of Heidelberg from Castle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This is the new building for Schiller International University

 

The Journey Home: Culture Shock


Burglengenfeld
Burglengenfeld (Photo credit: clg20171)

Well folks, I have had an amazing six years in Germany.  I will miss my little town I have grown to love. Unfortunately, my family and I are packing up and heading back to the US of A. I will certainly miss all the friends I have made here. I have to say that I am grateful to have experienced what most people only dream of while living vicariously through the media. Of course, our move shouldn’t come as a surprise since we are a military family. Moving is part of our world, and learning to continuously adapt is a must, otherwise enjoying your time wherever the military assigns you can become a nightmare.

Am I nervous? You bet I am! When my family and I first moved to Germany it was a huge culture shock. The language was a large barrier and shopping was not nearly as fun as it was back home. My husband had chosen a house in the German community of Burglengenfeld, and my family and I were instantly immersed in the German culture. Since I did not have my European license yet I had to shop on the German economy. I was forced to learn how to communicate in the German economy, for what I wanted and needed, when I had to get something for the household. Ahhh, that seemed so long ago. Eventually the family assimilated and my children even learned to speak German fluently. They were fortunate to have a terrific German language instructor named Frau O.

Now we are headed back to the US. Journeying back home to a place which should feel familiar to us, but somehow it doesn’t. I am like the foreign people who only know what they know of the US through the media. The knowledge is part truth and part illusion. There have been many changes since we have moved from the US and there might be some changes that we will know nothing about until we step back on US soil. Driving back home will definitely be different without the autobahn. We will have to watch our speed and fight the need to blaze down the interstate at 80 to 100 miles per hour.

Burglengenfeld Rathaus
Burglengenfeld Rathaus (Photo credit: clg20171)

Our household is packed up and my family waits with butterflies in our bellies for the day of departure. I will have to get used to only speaking English and not mixing it with German. So, wish me luck, our move isn’t over yet, and I will have updates on my Journey, until then Auf Wiedersehen!

Asian/Pacific Islander American Heritage Month


May is designated for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. I am happy to be a part of US ARMY Garrison Hohenfels event on Thursday May 24, 2012. I cannot wait for everyone to taste my Pad Thai.

           Over the years Asian American and Pacific Islanders have contributed to shaping United States history. Many Asian/Pacific Islander Americans fought in wars against oppression and have been loyal allies through many of America‘s long hard years. Click on this link to find out more about Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

         At the API event anyone who attends can experience the culture and values of the Asian/Pacific Islander lifestyle. The event displays the cultures of each country participating, as well as having samples of food and cultural entertainment. Check your local area newspapers or google where an API event is happening near you.

Amsterdam or Bust ヅ


The drive to Frankfurt Airport went quickly. The three boys slept just about the whole way there. We arrived somewhat early and I had a beer in the restaurant while the boys looked around. The Frankfurt Airport was vast and full of shops in which you can buy souvenirs or a designer handbag. When it was finally time to board the plane we were all so excited. I have been to the wonderful city of Amsterdam many times and always I find something new to see there.

When we arrived at the Schipol Airport in Amsterdam the rain was drizzling on us, but we did not let that dampen our spirits. We quickly wound our way past other arriving passengers and headed to get our baggage. We were on an adventure and wanted to start it as soon as possible. We hired a taxi to take us to the Hem Hotel/ Hostel which is split into two parts: a hotel and a hostel. The hotel is not bad and cost a little more but has more creature comforts; while the hostel part of the Hem is much smaller and for the person or group who will not spend too much time in the room. We stayed in the four person hostel room, the room was very small to bed for people but bunk-beds took care of that. It could have been cleaner but I was not going to argue when we were only paying €20 a night.

After putting our things away the boys and I decided we were going to head out to eat. Not far from our hotel we found a greatly priced restaurant with delicious authentic Thai cooking called Thai Xpress. It was the best Thai food I have had since I moved overseas. Even the boys were a big fan of the restaurant. We tried a couple more times to eat there for lunch but the restaurant is only open from 16:00 to 22:00. Oh well, at least I know where to go when I make another visit to Amsterdam.

After our bellies were filled with good food the boys and I head out to the center of Amsterdam to peruse the shops and delicacies that Amsterdam could offer. We took the tram ( this is like a bus which moves on a track) which cost €2,70 per ride but there are day tickets for around €7,50 as well as a weekend pass. We looked at smart shops, souvenir stores, and eyed the coffee shops. We rode the tram to the Leidseplein Square, one of the busiest squares Amsterdam. The Leidseplein is where you will find the famous Bulldog Coffeeshop and restaurant as well other great places to eat or just have a drink. If you’re in for a little comedy Boom Chicago is right next door to the Bulldog. The picturesque square is scattered with  tables setup outside the café and restaurants filled with people drinking their cappuccino, beer, or imbibing in their favorite strain of wacky tobaccy. The square is not filled with only bohemian or hippy flower children, but a variety of people from all over the world including families with small children.

Image
The Bulldog Coffeeshop and restaurant-bar located in the Leidseplein Square. It is one of the few scattered through out the city of Amsterdam.

Finally, although we were a bit damp and the weather had turned chiller nothing could dampen our first night in Amsterdam. Of course, there is more adventure to come…so stay tuned for more. ヅImage

Spring is in the Air!


Spring is in the Air!

It’s that time of year when the snow has melted away and the flowers are about to bloom,even in

Have a Dutch experience…get on a bike and ride through the streets pass the houses set along the canals of Amsterdam. It’s an awesome experience and one you’ll never forget.

Germany. It’s a time when a person can step out of their house and feel alive again. It’s no wonder that baby animals are made in the Spring. It’s also a time when there is a week of freedom from school, work, and other worldly pressures of life. My second son will be graduating high school this year and does not want to go to the senior trip.So I decided we could take a trip to Amsterdam where there is fun to be had all around. The Netherlands have a laid back atmosphere which engages you regardless of what type of experience you are expecting to have when visiting. Amsterdam is well known for the city where Coffee Houses are abound, a place where marijuana is sold freely and the mostly infamous Red Light District. 


But Coffee Houses and the Red Light District are not the only things of interest in Amsterdam. There are the famous canals, beautiful buildings, and many museums which exhibit artworks from the most famous, such as Rembrandt and Van Gogh, to artist of today. Anne Frank’s home in which her and her family hid during the war sits ideally along one of the canals. The home of Anne Frank looks as any other building on the canals and without Anne Frank’s diary we may never have known the people who hid in within the rooms, praying and hoping that they would never be caught by German soldiers and sent to a concentration camp.This home connected to one of the saddest stories of our history sits among other buildings which may house homeowners, stores, and other businesses; never standing out except for the fact that Anne Frank’s father, Otto Frank gave the house as a museum, so that other’s may remember the plight he and his family endured, as well as millions of other people worldwide. 

I am excited to be visiting the bustling city once again, which seems so alive and wakes up even the most dormant of people. I will keep updates as I travel for my three night, four day stay. I want to let my readers see and feel in their mind how a trip to this special place can make you smile and feel like a new and refreshed person when you get back to your own bustling and busy life. Until next time…auf wiedersehen.