Saturday, 24 December 2011

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Christmas will be here tomorrow and I’ve been doing my best to get into the holiday spirit and celebrate in Germany.
Here’s What We’ve Done:
Step One: Set up little 10 Inch Christmas Tree that Matt’s parents sent us.
Step Two: Hang Christmas window decoration.
Step Three: Buy a poinsettia, baking pans and track down Canadian equivalent ingredients (this also included e-mailing home to get additional Christmas recipes and looking them up on the internet).
Step Four: Bake lot’s of delicious treats
Step Five: Go to the Nürnberg and Bamberg Christmas Markets
Step Six: Make a gigantic Christmas grocery shopping list
Step Seven: Figure out how to cook a Chicken
….By this time it was still 3-4 days before Christmas and I still forget that it’s even December.
Step Eight: Put wrapped Christmas presents around little tree and clean up apartment.
..It looks a little more festive in here now. But one thing is still missing. Besides the fact it’s just the two of us, the SNOW is missing! It looks like November outside. It was so mild yesterday, I didn’t need to wear mittens and was getting too warm in a fall leather jacket. We had snow once this month! It came, it covered the ground, it rained, it melted. To be fair, it sounds as though Canada isn’t having a white Christmas either, or maybe they are. I can’t keep track with all the “It Snowed! Looks like it will be a white Christmas after all!” followed by the “We got rain and it was washed away”
The Nürnberg weather forcast is calling for mixed Snow and Rain or Snow followed by Rain so it doesn’t sound very promising.

However, I must say the Christmas Markets have been helping. Over 150 carts selling Christmas Ornaments, Gingerbread Cookies and Glühwein! I’ve decided I am going to try and collect Christmas ornaments from every country I visit. So far, I haven’t been able to just pick one. From Ireland, I brought home two leprechaun’s, one holding a pot of gold and the other holding a pint of Guinness. From Germany, I bought a Nutcracker, a cuckoo clock, and a little German girl wearing a dirndl. I also bought a Santa on Skies which has nothing to do with Germany but I was walking past 1000’s of Christmas ornaments and couldn’t help it.

Glühwein: one cup is never enough!
You cannot go to a German Christmas Market without getting a cup of Glühwein (mulled red wine, served warm and in a mug). I paid the fond and kept the Nürnberg Christmas mug. I purchased a second cup in Bamberg solely for the mug with the detailed Bamberg Rathaus and I purchased a bottle to bring home and drink over the holidays!

Matt and I are planning to have a proper Christmas dinner. We bought everything to cook a small chicken, stuffing, broccoli salad, and mashed potatoes. Neither of us have cooked a chicken before, but the Christmas baking turned out so there is hope! Hopefully it won’t turn out like that scene from the movie The Santa Claus when Tim Allen’s turkey sets on fire.

I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas! If you are cooking your first Christmas Dinner as well, Good Luck!!!

Monday, 19 December 2011


Are your appliances old? Do you own appliances that are half broken and should be replaced but still manage to do the trick so you plan on keeping them until they actually kick?
If you answered yes, and said appliance is a toaster that doesn’t automatically pop anymore or any other appliance that may cause accident, please do everyone a favour and get rid of them.

As you have likely already read, I am a nanny for a family here in Germany. I go into their home to look after the kids. This means, I have to get use to and figure out how all of their appliances work, what foods they like and how they like them prepared. This morning, I put a piece of bread in the toaster for one of the little girls and then continued washing up the dishes. All of a sudden, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a light I hadn’t noticed before and looked over… FIRE! IN THE TOASTER!

“AHH” I yelled. I ran over and began blowing out the fairly large flame on the piece of toast. I pulled up the lever and once the fire was out, took the piece of bread and threw it out onto the metal part of the balcony. I did my best to waft the smoke out the door afraid it would set the fire alarm off. I went to get another piece of bread and noted to the mom that the toaster wasn’t automatically popping. They already NEW that but had forgotten to tell me. Luckily, the cupboards above the toaster are high enough that the flame had not reached them and no harm was done. I put a second piece of bread into the toaster and watched it as I began drying a few dishes. Watching a toaster is like watching paint dry.

It occurred to me while I was waiting for the second piece to toast that the mother had previously told me that German homes/apartments don’t have fire alarms….and that if you smell smoke, take that as your cue to get out! What is this, the stone age? What building wouldn’t be equipped with fire alarms? What if I had gone to the bathroom or decided to clean up the dining room while I was waiting instead of cleaning the dishes? This is not the first time this has happened to me. Two years ago, at my aunt’s house, I put a piece of bread in the toaster and went back into my room to finish getting ready. Not too long after, the fire alarm went off. It was very effective. It wasn’t just the standard beeping fire alarm. Not only did it beep, but it yelled FIRE!!! HALT!! On a continuous loop until my aunt shut off the breaker. No harm done to her home or toaster, but the toaster immediately went into the garbage after that.

When I got back home to my German apartment, I noted that our apartment did not have a fire alarm either. I am curious as to what the statistics are of deaths related to fires in the home or in a building. I am sure they are much higher than those in Canada or the United States.

The lesson learned here is to never leave your kitchen when there is a toaster involved and if the toaster looks like it’s from the 90’s, don’t let it out of your sight when the lever is down..especially if you live in Germany.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

No better time for a morning jog than when you're wearing knee high leather boots, a leather jacket and pulling a carry-on wheelie suitcase

Time: Approximately 9:08am
Location: Dublin Airport, about to board my Ryan Air flight back to Memmingen, Germany departing at 9:30am
when this happened:
Girl at the Gate: "You havent got your passport check done" "You can't board this plane without getting it done" "You have to go back to the check-in"
Me: "WHAT! I got pulled out of the check-in line by Airport staff and sent straight through security, she looked at my ticket!"
Girl at the Gate "It's not their responsibility" "You have to go back"
Me: "Am I going to be able to make this plane?"
Girl at the Gate: "I dont know, it's at least 10 minutes back just to security"

The story. It clearly states on my boarding pass that all persons that are not members of the EU must have their passport checked prior to entering security. This is literally having someone look at your passport for 30 seconds and putting a stamp on your boarding pass.
I had it done when I left Memmingen on Friday, along with an official checking and stamping my passport after going through Memmingen security, and again when I arrived in Dublin.
I was dropped off at the airport at least 2 hours before my flight departed. I stood in the line, only to reach the lady trying to assist people print their boarding passes. I had already done the check-in and printing online. I told her I already had mine, she LOOKED AT IT and despite it saying, requires passport check, says no this is everything you need, you can just step out of line here and go straight to security. You can get your gate number at security.
Through security, boarding pass looked at, bought a bottle of Jameson Whiskey, boarding pass looked at, made the 10 minute walk to my gate only to discover there were no good shops down there and I had lots of time so I actually made the 10 minute walk back to purchase a hoodie, boarding pass checked, and get a coffee and muffin from Starbucks.

Finally the flight is boarding. I did think, its really strange that no one has looked at my passport today. I mean, I kept trying to show people and no one wanted it. But I figured they would look at it before I got on the plane and I had so many friggin stamps on the way to Dublin that maybe that was enough.  Nope. Here's where that fun little interaction occured.

So here I go, making my trek back to check-in. Thinking to myself, will I make this plane? This is ridiculous. Then it hit me... that the next flight may not have been for another few days and that I had to one, work the next day and two, was not about to be shelling out more money for a new ticket. Time Check: 9:11am. Shit. Start full out running, back towards security. I had on jeans and a 3/4 jacket, knee high leather boots, a leather jacket, a heavy purse, and a carry-on wheelie suitcase dragging behind me. Run, run, run. I should mention that I am no runner. I swim for work and exercise, but I never run, and the breathing is not nearly the same.Get to security and spot someone who isnt doing anything. My throat feels like its on fire but I manage to yell out and ask for help, "My flight is leaving in just over 10 minutes, I need a passport check and I now have a bottle of whiskey in my bag". He was very friendly and escorted me through the back door and I explained how I had been pulled out of line. "I dont know why they do this" he said. Clearly this has happened before. Within minutes, he had someone stamp my boarding pass and have the flight held. He escorted me back through security ignoring the beeping that my belt, coat and everything was now causing and I high tailed it back to the gate.
Time check: 9:25am
Girl at the Gate: "Oh, you made it"
Luckily, there were still a few people on the tarmac waiting to board the plane. Ready to jump on, but oh wait!! The other girl at the counter says, "excuse me, you have to put your purse in your luggage"
I didnt have to do this on the way there, and I threw my souvenirs in my bag not really leaving room. On top of trying to figure this out, I am dying of heat exhaustion and lack of hydration. Finally, one of the airport men stood in front of her blocking her view and told me to forget it and go. Thanks Sir!!!!
Finally on the plane, soaked in sweat, and throat on fire. It was an excellent plane ride home and drinks were not free.

Luckily, everything went well after that. I figured out the bus and all the trains to get home and was home by 6pm.

This post was really just a rant, although I think I really earned it.
The moral of the story, if your boarding pass says, passport check required, you better make sure you get it BEFORE you go through security and argue when you are told otherwise.


The streets and houses don't look too different than everything else, but only Ireland can get away with naming all of their bars, shops, and funeral homes after their family name and have it sound so great. Vaughn's, Murphy's, Fanigans, Whelan's are just a few places that line the streets.

Friday evening, we made a trip to the cinema. You may can do that at home...but living in Germany, finding a decent movie playing in English is not an easy task. It's almost a novelty to be able to see a film. And I did get to see the sites at night, the christmas decorations and make 4 trips over the Ha' Penny Bridge in one evening trying to figure out the evening public transportation schedule.

Saturday was a successful day of sightseeing. Grafton Street, Photos with Leprechauns, Stephens Green, Trinity College, the Spire, Ha' Penny Bridge (again), O'Connell Bridge, major statues including Molly Malone, Leprechaun Museum, Guinness Storehouse, just to name a few. A certificate in hand to state that I poured a perfect pint of Guinness, although I'll be honest and tell you, apparently I didn't pour the top correctly.
Eggs, toast, and bacon rashers for breakfast, fish and chips for lunch, and a deep fried burger and chips for dinner. That is, a beef patty covered with deep dry batter and eaten with a fork. I was assured that this was just a coincidence to have it twice in one day and that the Irish don't eat like that everyday :)

A night out in Dublin with Julie and her friends where I saw firsthand, just how dressed up the Irish get, even just to go to the bar; fancy dresses, platform heals, and blown out/teased hair.

I came home having had my first ever Guinness, am a hoodie, some christmas decorations, and a bottle of 12 year old Jameson Whiskey richer, and owing the Dublin 6 cents for all the crossing I did over the Ha' Penny Bridge.

A Big THANKS to Julie for letting me stay in her home, introducing me to her family and friends, and taking time off work to show me around the city! Ive got two new passport stamps, lots of memories, pictures and souvenirs, and another country to add to my list. You are a great friend!

Guinness Mustache!