October 19, 2017

50 ways to grill your lover

I may or may not enter the dating world again within the next decade. It's a possibility. Or not.
Because I feel the need to overthink so many things I decided to give my brain a fun exercise of what I would need to know about someone before they could be considered a good match. So far I have -

Travel lover
Book reader
Walking Dead watcher or at least interested in watching from the beginning
Position on gay marriage
Political leanings
Star Wars vs Star Trek
Religious leanings
Myers Briggs type
Enneagram type

What else am I missing?

October 3, 2017

Monthly Book Review: September 2017

In addition to the following books, I listened to 10 Esther Perel therapy session podcasts - free on Audible. Good insight. I'm in an introspective, search for enlightenment kind of mood lately so my choices reflect that.

He Said/She Said by Robert Morgan - a slow build that alternates the stories of events that occur during solar eclipses over many years. The title reflects the story alternating chapters between husband and wife protagonists. It was a coincidence that I started this within a couple of weeks of The Great American Eclipse. 4/5 stars.

Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo - loquacious, but good messages about the value of less judgement, more contemplation and the idea that each life we live builds on our last. I have a lot of work to do in this life to better my chances in the next ;)

I started a third, Chasing the North Star by Robert Morgan, but could not get into it. I have A LOT built up in my queue so am anxious to dive in. An upcoming 10 hour road trip should help.

 Next up:
Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari
Blackout by Connie Willis
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
The Child by Fiona Barton
The Map of Heaven by Eben Alexander

 Image by Jones Design

September 2, 2017

Monthly Book Review: August 2017

Feeling good that I fit in three books during a busy month. I'm even half way through a fourth. So many books, so little time.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See - a love story of two women bound to one another since the age of seven. A secret shifts the power balance and changes the course of both lives.

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris - Great mystery told from the point of view of a woman whose life looks picture perfect to the outside world. Looks can be deceiving - no one knows what goes on behind closed doors.

Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams - I've tried to get into this twice and given up so either third times the charm or I needed to give up the ghost. I finally got into it, but to be honest it wasn't my fave Beatriz read. Tiny does everything that 1960's society expects of her until she realizes freedom from convention is more fulfilling. Ll

Next up:
Chasing the North Star by Robert Morgan
He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

August 26, 2017

Traveling Germany

Thought I'd summarize random thoughts/observations while still fresh in my mind.

I loved driving - memorable scenery through the Black Forest and Bavarian Alps, but also endless rolling hills and villages appearing out of nowhere of white buildings with red roofs and churches. Lots of solar farms and windmills. A lot of roundabouts!!! Learned "einbahnstrasse" means one way street quickly, not because I went wrong way but because when following directions wondered why I kept seeing the same street name (duh!).

  • Bring your own toiletries - a couple hotels had combo body/hair washer dispensers in showers and by sink, but not all
  • Towels were small and only one per person - bring your own if you have luggage space; no washcloths so pack those too 
  • Most toilets have two wall buttons for flushing, small for liquid only and large for solid
  • Totally obsessed with their use of simple toilet paper roll dispensers, none of that complicated spring stuff we have in America 
  • Some public places charge to use toilets (WC) -  € 0.50-1
  • I overpacked - wore some things twice, didn't wear makeup other than sunscreen, CC cream and mascara
  • One feather bed per person, no sheets
  • Water at restaurants is carbonated, labeled "classic" in markets; if you prefer non-carbonated then look/ask for "still" water
  • Europeans are more leisurely with meals - you have to ask for bill if you're ready to move on; tip included in most meals, else receipt will say "tip not included"
  • Beer much stronger than U.S. 
  • Not as many English speaking people as I assumed - should have learned more German though Sassy quite good at interpreting (ei sounds like long "i", ie sounds like long "e" and ß sounds like "ss")
  • Trains are THE best way to travel within large cities - my strategy of finding hotels near public transportation paid off as we could park car, check in and begin sightseeing without worrying about traffic or where to park
  • Dog lovers - on the subway, in restaurants, random
  • A LOT of walking (I averaged 20,000 steps each day) - cobblestone streets; mind bikes, traffic lights, and directions (many streets break right vs left from a central marker/monument)
  • Gelato is everywhere and amazing! Especially hazelnut with toasted nuts 😉
  • Have plenty of coins - € 1 and € 2
  • Be flexible - impromptu zoo visit and mountain gondola ride were more fun than Neuschwanstein castle 
  • Note to self - check for holidays (national, regional, religious)

August 20, 2017

Deutschland - sieben Tag

We visited two historic and very different places on our last day - Dachau and Rothenburg on der Tauber. 

Dachau has the distinction of being the first Nazi concentration camp. I wasn't sure what to expect when we arrived. You might not know it was there if you weren't looking and didn't notice barbed wire on concrete walls lining a regular city street. The site consisted of an information center with cafeteria, recreated barracks, crematorium, memorials and museum. We did the self-guided tour with audio sets. It was informative, reverent and sobering. The tragedy here serves as a reminder that we must fight hatred and discrimination of all kinds wherever it exists.

It was a two hour drive to Rothenburg, a walled city founded over 840 yrs ago. It was the inspiration for the village in the 1940 Walt Disney movie Pinocchio. It was also the location for the Vulgarian village scenes in the 1968 movie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I was expecting a live version of a renaissance festival. It was actually more touristy than I expected and while beautiful to see, I didn't think there was much to do beyond shopping. We had our last meal here and then drove another 90 miles to Frankfurt for our departure the next morning. While Chunky was looking forward to going home, Sassy and I were melancholy as we felt like we could easily make Deutschland our new home. 

August 16, 2017

Deutschland - sechs Tag

I woke up on day six anxious to get to the viktulienmarkt. The kids wanted to visit Sea Life and Munich's only cat cafe. We decided to separate and meet up later in the day. I arrived downtown and immediately perceived a noticeable lack of people for 11am. I walked past the Marienplatz and arrived at the open market to find not one thing open. I walked across the street to a Starbucks, ordered an iced peach green tea (yum!) and inquired about the lack of activity. I was informed that it was a holiday, Assumption, only observed in Bavaria. Just my luck. I decided to enact plan b - tour churches and other landmarks
After about a two mile walk around the immediate downtown area and three scoops of the gelato (hazelnut, tiramisu and peach), I bought a subway to ticket for the English Garden, Germany's Central Park. There were a lot of sunbathers and picnickers, presumably locals. I read that there was a Japanese tea garden and headed that way when Sassy texted to say they were at the cafe. It was only a 15 minute walk away so I decided to meet them there. We only saw two of the six resident cats - one lounging on a table, another on one of the many towers. The cafe was vegan - I ordered bruschetta, Sassy a salad and Chunky had tofu eggs with bread and a smoothie.
We decided to go to the Deutsches Museum (science and technology). It was only open for another hour so it was free. Chunky enjoyed the exhibits while Sassy and I cruised through and waited outside. Next we grabbed a quick bite to eat and rolls for the next morning. Chunky and I decided to head back to the house as we were tired while Sassy explored the Englischer Garden, including a locals surfing spot.
Day 8 is our last day in Germany - we plan to get up early to visit Dachau Concentration Camp and then to Rothenburg before returning to Frankfurt.

August 15, 2017

Deutschland - fünf Tag

Day five can best be summarized in three parts. Part one was spent in the natural beauty of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. After a local bistro breakfast we headed to the Eckbauerbahn, 2 person gondolas built for the 1936 Winter Olympics, up one of the main ski mountains. There are several hiking trails to take back down and we chose one that included Partnach Gorge (about 4 hours start to finish). This was one of the most scenic experiences I've ever had, with many waterfalls and rapids, and a favorite of this trip. We all decided that we would definitely like to come back to G-P and then head south to Austria and Italy for more passport stamps and mountain views.

Chunky had hopes of swimming, but the Eibsee was packed and it would have delayed our arrival to Munich significantly. Part two was driving, a little over two hours, and arriving at our AirBnB. It wasn't a spectacularly pretty drive, but it was interesting as the nav system had us take an odd combination of back roads and the autobahn to a metropolitan area. Our AirBnB home was just inside Munich's city limits in the southeast. We were greeted warmly by the mother of the two daughters who rent their rooms out of their family home. Cecelia could not have been any nicer and the room was actually an apartment with seating area, kitchenette, 5 beds and a huge bathroom. Perfekt!

Part three was Munich's inner city. There was a U-Bahn (subway) station just a short walk from the AirBnB with city center stations only 15 minutes away. We took the U downtown and headed for the famed viktulienmarkt. I was really looking forward to grabbing street food and buying some trinkets, but it was almost 7pm and the kids wanted to sit down to eat. We decided to go to Hofbrauhaus so Sassy could be with her people. I had bought Sassy an authentic Bavarian dirndl as an early Christmas gift in Freiburg. Cecelia lent me one of her own drindls (for photos only, I didn't dare go out in it for fear of spilling food or splitting it open) and lent Sassy a blouse for underneath as we decided to buy at a later date and make due with a tee shirt. Cecelia was excited for us to experience the culture. Hofbrauhaus did not disappoint! It was bursting at the seams with people and we thought we were out of luck when I spotted a table of five older gentlemen, most dressed in lederhosen. Sassy asked in German if the three of us could sit at one end and they welcomed us in. Little did we know what an honor this was. Only one spoke a little English. Sassy did a great job of interpreting. All had beautiful steins - some engraved, others with enamel tops.They made fun of me when I ordered Radler, half beer half lemonade (shandy in the states but this is SO much better), and when I acted hurt they all toasted me anyway. They even bought us shots before they left. I received kisses from almost every one ❤️ We were surprised when they returned, cleaning their mugs and holding small locks. Then we noticed behind them were stein "safes". Evidently these are coveted spots for regulars and these gentlemen have a standing date at their reserved table on Monday and Friday evenings. I was so touched by their generosity that I prepaid the first round for their next meeting. Hope they are pleasantly surprised :)

Tomorrow is another day in Munich. Wir lieben Deutschland ❤️🇩🇪