The nominations are in and it’s time to vote! There are a quite a few more cities and regions to choose from than last year, including a couple of repeats and one far-flung locale.
What is WEBMU you ask? Why, it’s the Whiny Expat Bloggers Meet Up. Click the link for a little history on the event.
Voting will close on March 31, 2014. That’s two whole weeks to see what’s on offer, find out more about the options, engage in some campaigning and debate and cruise the blogs of potential participants. To vote, go check out this thread in the Expat Bloggers in Germany Forums. Can’t access the forums? Let us know here or on Twitter (@ExpatBloggersDE) and we will get you taken care of.
Non-stick cookware has been getting a bad rap for several years now. We finally took the plunge and got rid of our non-stick pots (non-stick coating was peeling away on all of them). We are looking into replacing them with stainless steel pieces. So now, I have a sauce-pan shaped hole in my life. So I’m reaching out to the collective wisdom of the Internet to plot my next move:
Do I buy a new full set of pots and pans? If so, what brands are you into? Our last experience was with Berndes and it was not good, so I’ll be steering clear of them.
Should I buy individual pots and pans, regardless of brand, getting what most specifically serves my needs?
Some other kitchen stuff acquisition method of which I have not thought?
As of now, I’m leaning towards the second option, but I’m interested to see what others have done. I’m especially keen to hear your opinions (positive and negative) on pieces and brands that surprised you.
Cliff’s out of town for work and we don’t like traveling separately. That might have me in a more introspective mood than usual. It won’t be outright maudlin, though. Pinky swear.
A fellow blogger, Ellie & the German, has a new post up titled Expattery. I’ve tried to reply to it about a dozen times today, but nothing I write seems correct. I’m not a big commenter by nature. Unless I’ve really got something to say, I usually talk myself out of it. Not important enough, not insightful enough, not enough there there. But something about her post really stuck with me and made me want to reach out. So here goes:
Which mobile provider do you use here in Germany? What do you like/dislike about them? Think about coverage. Billing. Pre-paid vs. contract. Perks. Roaming (EU and beyond). Especially welcome are your comparisons between operators/plans.
I’ve used Debitel pre-paid for phone service. O2 for pre-paid data services in Germany. Vodafone and Telekom for business and personal telephony and data plans.
Seems like they all are the pits on the DB stretch between Regensburg and Nuremberg. Vodafone and Telekom are just okay for coverage in our apartment. O2 doesn’t work at all there — good thing we don’t need them to and didn’t move there with O2 contracts in place. But I like their pre-paid surfstick plan (with which I use a mifi instead of their stick and am publishing this now).
We got up on time at the Hotel Alte Post in Oberammergau and the fog coming out of the mountains was too much for me to resist.
After driving straight through downtown Munich — isn’t there a better way to do this!? — we arrived at Weltenburg near Kelheim about two hours later. It was time for some lunch and a little exercise, hiking up the hill to the Roman fortress ruins and checking out the chapel at the monastery.
And thus ended our road trip around Southern Germany.
We got moving the next after waddling back from all that pork and potatoes and choucroute to our tiny hotel rooms. Check-out was pretty easy and over night parking at the parking garage across the street from the Hotel Aux Trois Roses was surprisingly reasonable — just 7€. After a dip into France, we arrived in Prussia.
See that little red piece of of irritation there? That’s part of Prussia, hanging out all by its lonesome.
This is the ancestral seat of the House of Hohenzollern, the family which rose to the power as the kings “in” and “of” Prussia, and became Emperors of Germany. Then a whole bunch of bad stuff happened, which you know about. But I remember visiting this castle, which is still privately owned to this day, in 1989 or ’90 and thinking “wait…we’re in southwest Germany. How is this place Prussian?” When you take the tour, donning the provided felt slippers over your street shoes to protect the flooring, the tour guide explains how the family grew and spread and rose to power.
That night we stayed in Ulm, really only because it’s about the half-way point between the Burg and our next stop at the very top and bottom of Germany. But Sarah found us a really great hotel/restaurant there through booking.com, which made it all the more worthwhile.
Regensburg’s most recognizable secular landmark (according to me, anyways) is getting a built-on detour for Fußgänger (pedestrians) and Radfahrer (cyclists…sounds so much more intent than “bikers,” doesn’t it?). We’d been watching some construction activity on the North (our) side of the bridge for a few weeks, but only became really interested when they started to erect a structure in parallel to the bridge. That finally inspired us to try and figure out “what that should” (Was soll das!?). We got the scoop from our favorite local news source, TVA. Admittedly, we’ve cut ourselves off from local news a bit of late.
Turns out it’s going to be a big ol’ project to renovate it in four phases. And this is only the first phase. On the one hand, I’m just glad they’re not isolating Stadtamhof residents even further by completely closing the Steinerne to foot/bike traffic, given that the Protzenweiher Brücke is still closed to car traffic following its barge-collision meltdown several years ago (and it looks like they’re building a new foot/bike bridge in parallel to the existing wooden workaround). And don’t forget that what used to be our Netto is still at least the better part of a year away from being a usable grocery store again.
On the other hand, I wonder if such a project really can only be carried out in such a manner, and whether that is really in the spirit of Denkmalschutz and whether emergency vehicle traffic (Notarzt, Krankenwagen, Polizei) will finally also have to be re-routed around the Steinerne Brücke. Of course, if this renovation project will allow taxis and buses to use the bridge, then maybe it’s worth it. I’m sure we’d use the bus more if the three or four lines which used to stop at our Netto would become viable options again.
There are some lovely cherries on sale at pretty much every place you can buy food around here. Stalls out on the square, produce mongers of the wine-and-cheese and imported meats variety, even plain old supermarkets are all offering beautiful, luscious, juicy, dark sweet cherries from places like Turkey, Italy and even Franconia. They’re good — really, really good in yoghurt or just rinsed and pitted as a snack.
Seems like fruit so excellent like these cherries are would be great candidates for baking into cobblers and muffins and all sorts of things, right? That’s what I thought too. But after two attempts, we’re still having no luck. Somehow we’re baking all the good flavor out of those cherries.
We’ve tried a cherry cobbler recipe (last year, and we had high hopes for it; so high that we were traumatized and couldn’t even speak about it until now). It came out of the oven looking and smelling pretty darn nice, but upon digging in, all we could taste was the oatmeal-based streusel over the top of it. It was very disappointing.
Tonight we tried these muffins and we were skeptical, having tried something similar with some fantastic blueberries lately (and being less than nonplussed with the muffin results), but they smelled great while cooking, looked great coming out of the oven (in spite of our odd oven), and renewed our hope. And then:
Actually the muffiny part of them was much better than we expected and we’ll be using that recipe again in the future. But again the cherry flavor is Just. Not. There. At least the muffins stand up on their own. But how can I bake with these dark sweet cherries and hope to preserve any of their flavor in the finished product?
In other news, it would seem that the English and Germans’ royal relationships* are still manifesting themselves in the school holiday schedule.
That’s right, folks! The Day of German Unity means we got a day off. I can’t really afford a national holiday these days, given all the hot topics going on at work (some typical for this time of year, some not), but the German people decided I get one anyway. So Sarah and I explored a new (to us) part of the country: die Fränkische Schweiz. Many, many thanks to our pals Jentry & Markus for putting us up, feeding us some hard-to-get American comfort food, and showing us around these parts. They were neat, and would have been even neater if the sun had made just a little effort to be seen.