Friday, September 30, 2011

Road Trip to Venice

This weekend we are taking off with two friends of ours and driving to Venice. Whenever we have a long weeked we try to plan something fun to make the most of the extra time off. This Monday is German Unity Day, which marks the reunification of the two German states in 1990.
Our backpacks are packed and I have prepared a few snacks for the roadtrip.We will take off around noon on Friday, after we pick the guys up from work, and drive about 6.5 hours to Venice.

We are excited to try the Venetian cuisine, take in the local arts and sites and once again, enjoy some gelato. I also hope that we get to stick our feet in the water since the temperature will be in the mid 80s.

I am looking forward to sharing our experience and all that we saw next week.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

We are not in Charlotte anymore

I can't believe that we are hitting our 20th month of living in Germany already. Time is flying by and although we are excited to be getting closer to reuniting with friends and family we are also feeling a little sad. Phil and I have started talking about how hard it will be to leave in July and say goodbye to this life we created in Germany. This has truly been an awesome experience filled with a lot of highs a lows. Who knows, maybe someday after starting a family we will be back.

As I think about our return I am reminded of all of the little differences between Charlotte and our life here. There are definitely some things that remind us that we are a ways from home. I should preface this with the fact that this has all been our experience living in our little town.

Things that continue to remind me that we are not in Charlotte anymore.

1. Squeegees in the shower.
2. Accordion players right outside our kitchen window at night.

3. The festivals every weekend. I am amazed that for a small town there is always something that is being celebrated.

4. A bicycle as our main mode of transportation. I am loving it and keep trying to convince myself that I can continue this lifestyle when we go back.

5. Paying for water which comes in tiny glasses at restaurants. On a rare occasion we can order water from the tap, which is free, but this is the case about 25% of the time, in our experience.

6. The fashion. I have still not tried the black tights under jean shorts trend yet.

7. Where is the ice? I am amazed that ice in glasses is not normal over here. It is such a treat when a restaurant serves ice water.

8. Seeing the occasional man dressed in lederhosen at the grocery store and having it be no big deal.

9. Drinking hot coffee right after a good workout. Let me paint a picture for you. I go to a really nice gym that has ac. Not air conditioning like we are use to in the States, more of a light breeze that you quickly do not notice once you start working out. On this particular day I had just finished a very hot and long body pump class with about 25 other people. I was shocked when a large number of these folk, just as drenched as I was, sat down for a cappuccino at the front desk. I will never understand it.

9. The cost of most vegetables and fruit. This was a great surprise. It is often times a lot cheaper than back in NC. I remember paying $1.69 for a large green pepper before moving here.

Look what I just purchased for 99cents (not on sale). Fantastic!

10. Another fun difference is the fact that in order to buy many herbs, at least at my store, you have to buy the entire plant. This is true for basil, cilantro, name it. Luckily the plants are inexpensive and last a lot longer.

11. I will end with one aspect of Bavaria that I will REALLY miss, the Christmas season. Germany does not mess around when it comes to getting into the holiday spirit. Between the early start date, plethora of Christmas goodies and Christmas markets, I can't get enough. It also helps that snow is usually involved, something that is not common in Charlotte around Christmas time.
I was delighted when I walked into a shop last week and saw this....
It's coming!

Germany, you have been good to us and we will really miss you. We are going to try to see as much of this great country as possible over the next 10 months.

Monday, September 19, 2011


It is finally September 19th. We have been anxiously awaiting this day for the last five months, since we finished filming in Charlotte. Our show, House Hunters International on HGTV will air tonight at 8:30pm (est), 2:30 am for us.

We are excited to watch but also a little nervous to see the final product. After filming for 32 hours for a 20 minute show, we have no idea what it is going to look like but we are so excited to show off our little town of Erlangen.

Hope all that tune in enjoy it and please excuse the nervous laughter and constant smiles. We had so much fun throughout the whole process.

Monday, September 12, 2011

La Tomatina

The main reason for our trip to Valencia, Spain was to take part in La Tomatina. While back in the States we had watched news clips showing this chaotic tomato fight and talked about how great it would be to join in the fun. Earlier this year we decided that we should give it a shot since we are only a 2 hour flight away.

Headed out on the metro to La Tomatina (equipped with our protective eye wear). La Tomatina actually takes place in a tiny Valencian town called Bunol. It took us about 40 minutes to get there by train from the center of Valencia.

Walking to the area where the tomato fight takes place. As we were walking I realized that this little town was really pretty.

Once we reached the area we squeezed into our spot among 40,000 other people. Even though we were an hour early we were still a ways from the start of the festival. At this point I started to get a littler nervous. Since I was not sure how intense this might get I made sure to position myself near several exits.
While we were waiting for things to get started people living above us started dumping buckets of cold water down onto the crowd. Everyone began to cheer and chant for more water. It was so refreshing while we waited under the hot sun.

We heard a loud shot at eleven o'clock which let us know that the tomatoes were coming. Everyone cheered as the first truck came around the corner.

As each truck came down the street the back of each truck was filled with people throwing tons of tomatoes at the crowd. As some of the tomatoes fall on the road it is a mad dash to pick up as many as you can to continue throwing them at others. I was so happy to be wearing goggles as I was pelted in the eye a few times. About ten minutes into the fight I looked down to see the river of marinara sauce a few inches deep that we were now standing in.

At 12pm we heard another shot and the tomato fight was over. Once we walked out of the crowd to a clearing, with tomato pieces falling off of us, and took a few pictures.

My shoes

As we were walking up the hill and towards the train there were several locals with hoses willing to help us wash off as much as possible.

It was a long ride back into Valencia with all of our fellow tomato throwers. We both agreed that we would be happy not to see or smell a tomato for a while.

It was a great experience and one that I would convince anyone to try once if over on this side of the world in August. Valencia is a beautiful city and one of our new favorite spots in Spain.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Six hours in Paris

When purchasing our flight from India to Valencia I was delighted to find that the cheapest flight included an 8 hour layover in Paris. Although I knew that we would be tired I could not pass up the chance to get out of the airport and see as much as possible. Before our trip I did a lot of research to see if this was doable and to find out how long it would take us to get into the city. Once we gathered all the info we decided to try to make it happen. We had it all figured out. We knew what we wanted to see and what we wanted to eat. We were both pleasantly surprised by how easily we were able to get into town (40 min by train) and find just about every site that we were trying to fit in. I should also mention that the weather was a sunny 68 degrees which was a delightful change from the heat that we experienced in India.

When we first arrived in Paris we were greeted by the smell of freshly made crepes. We decided that we should perform a little experiment to say if crepes were indeed better in France.They are!

We ordered a nutella and banana filled warm crepe and it was melt in your mouth delicious.

Notre Dame Cathedral

The most famous and oldest bridge in Paris, Pont Nuef

The Grand Palais,the largest ironwork and glass structure in the world.

Dome des Invalides

After walking for a while it was time to search for a macaron. I had read that there were two patisseries that offered the best macarons in Paris, Laduree and Lenotre. We ended up walking right past one of them and stopped in to try a few.

Our favorites were salted caramel and pistachio, delicious! A few hours later we came across the other shop and purchased a small box for our friends in Valencia, after trying one of course.

Ater our sugar rush we continued walking until we turned a corner and saw.....
The Eiffel Tower

After tossing the frisbee for a while we decided to head back to the airport. To be honest we ended up running to the airport since we had gotten a little confused with the time change. We ended up making our flight with ten minutes to spare.

I highly recommend getting out and seeing Paris to anyone with a long layover. We are so glad that we left the airport and can now cross Paris off the list.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Beautiful India

We are back and recovering after our trip to India, Paris and Valencia. India was by far the most emotional for me. I found myself fighting back tears as we said goodbye to family and boarded our flight leaving India and heading to Paris. I was surprised how attached I had become to people after meeting them just 3 days earlier. Phil also thoroughly enjoyed the trip especially since it had been five years since he had last traveled to India.

While in India I was continually asked two questions: "How do you like India?" and "Is the food too spicy for you?" It was very easy for me to fall in love with India because of the people that surrounded me. It was a treat to meet and get to know (as much as possible with the occasional language barrier) so many members of Phil's family. I felt right at home because of the warm welcome that I received. As far as the food goes, it was delicious! It is a bit of an adjustment to go back to cereal and milk after we had been eating appam and chicken curry every morning for breakfast. I also really enjoyed eating without utensils and introducing my palate to new spices.

Traveling around India.

It was a lot of fun to attend a wedding in India and learn all about the different traditions and symbolism used. I tried to convince Phil that we should have another wedding so that we can incorporate some of those traditions, he is going to get back to me on that one.

When we arrived in India I purchased a sari and was thrilled to be able to wear it to the wedding. I was even more excited to have someone help me dress. The wrapping, folding and draping is such an art and it would not have happened with out the help of a professional.

Posing with Asha.

I was so excited to wear my first sari.

Sweet little ones.

The bride and groom.

Hanging out after the ceremony.

After the wedding and a late night of games and talking, we drove to Kattakada for a family reunion.

Rubber trees.

Walking to the edge of the property

Vin and Abu catching fish.

Lots and lots of Bananas.

Mmmmm, fresh coconut water.

Setting up for the family shot. So happy to be a part of this group.

After the family reunion the four of us (Vin, Asha, Phil and I) headed off to the airport. We were delighted to be joined by several cousins to send us off.

As I mentioned earlier, India was beautiful in so many ways. I fell in love with all of my new extended family members. I hope that we can all get together again in the next year or two. Another five years is just too long.