Monday, January 28, 2008

My last week (pics below}

In the last two weeks, I was in Frankfurt for my teacher training, then home for a day in Erfurt, before heading off for a day in Bamberg, then my mid year seminar in Munich followed by a weekend trip to Salzburg. It was a great two weeks, full of travels, adventures and meeting up with friends, as well as speaking a lot of English.

Munich was a great time, spent with 24 other participants in my program. We met with an official from the state government (very biased towards Bavaria, as most are); went to a great opera at the opera house; watched people surf in a man made wave in the English Gardens; explored a couple famous museums; walked through Olympic Park, seeing the soccer and swimming stadiums; and got to try several types of local beer, in the numerous beer halls.

Our program put us up at a funky Catholic hostel/halfway house. Interesting place, but in a great location. After being together in Cologne for 2 months and then spending the last 4 months spread out at different schools, it was a blast to see everyone again. Most people have had positive experiences, but several are changing cities for their internships. Makes me glad to stay in one place and get to know one city really well.

After our seminar, I headed down to Salzburg with 3 other friends, to revisit the place where I studied for 2 separate summers. Apart from being cold as hell when we got there, it was great to be back and interesting to see the city in the winter. There were noticeable changes in the amount of water and tourists, both being lower, and the fountains were covered in glass for the winter. I relived my days there, having my favorite bier (Stiegl) and sausage (a Bosna), both of which are only in the Salzburg region. We climbed up to the fortress, spending several hours in the museums, halls and enjoying the view of the alps and the entire city. And I cant leave out going to the Augistiner Monestary, which has been brewing beer since the 1600s. It was just as great as before, although the beer garden was closed for winter.

Now I’m back in Erfurt, ready to finish up my teacher training (missed the 2nd half as I was in Munich, rather than Frankfurt) and then start teaching as well as continuing to work in my restaurant, Feuerkugel.

Salzburg Photos

The beautiful city of Salzburg

View from the chess board of the fortress of Salzburg

John and I enjoying the local sausage, Bosna, the best in the world

Munich Photos

Surfers in Munich's English Gardens, on a man made wave under a city bridge

Enjoying some of Munich's famous beers with friends

Running the stairs in the 1972 Olympic Stadium

Bamberg Photos

Little Venice, where all the fishers used to live

The town hall, in between two bridges

The amazing cathedral, overlooking the city

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Bamberg is amazing. After one day, it jumped into my top 5 places in Germany. From the beautiful cathedral, to the monestary on the hill overlooking the red roofed city, to the beer museum on the monks who brewed their famous smoke beer, to the town hall that is in between two bridges with an amazing clock tower, to the Blues Bar that had great music, Bamberg was a great trip.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

In between trips

Just got back from a week of teacher training in Frankfurt. In Erfurt today and then tomorrow I leave on a trip south. I'll be in Bamberg, Bavaria for one day to explore the city, see the famous cathedral and try some famous smoked beer. The beer has a smoky flavor, often tasting like smoked pork.

Then from Monday through Friday I'll be in Munich for my mid-year seminar with my program. Basically a reunion with the other participants and a time to explore more of Munich. After Munich Ill head down to my old stomping grounds of Salzburg for couple days there before heading back to Erfurt to continue my internship at the restaurant and begin teaching english.

Yeah, so that's what I'm up to.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Learning to teach English

Teacher training. Not quite as bad as it could be. I’d heard it was dry, but we’ve got a good group and it’s normally pretty lively. A wide variety of people learning how to teach a language. Four Americans, two English, one Scottish and one Australian, along with a Japanese, German and French person learning teaching techniques. It’s a little tricky for the non-native English speakers to follow along with everything, but they’re doing good. We all practice teaching and so I’ve gotten some free lessons in Japanese and French. And the German is a good review, such as with directions and such.

I’m at training from 10 until 5:30. Berlitz is putting me up at a nearby hotel. Or at least a hotel in the area, not really too close. A 20 minute walk each way. But it’s a good warm up to the morning, and it’s paid for. Tiny room in a hotel with free internet.

After training I’ve been going into Frankfurt to explore the city. Pretty cool place, with a good blend of modern with the skyscrapers to the old buildings. More of an American city with the amount of English spoken, and the high buildings. Lots of finance as well, with most banks having a building there.

I’ve attached a photo of the town hall square. While I was taking this photo, a police van was driving around with a megaphone informing people that a painting had been stolen from a local museum earlier that day. They described the suspect, a white male about 30, wearing dark clothes, with a dark bag, brown hair and speaking German without a foreign accent. Turns out I fit the description, from my clothes to my hair. Except for the accent part, but as I wasn’t speaking, I started to feel people start to look at me, as I definitely fit the bill. Kinda awkward, just trying to be a tourist at 6:30pm. I kept doing my thing, then went into a bakery and spoke in a horrible American accent. Think it did the trick as I was never confronted.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Another day in Germany

I got tricked by the German language again today. I saw a sign for a shop advertising restaurant antiques, so I decided to check it out. Turns out that the word restaurieren does not mean restaurants, but rather to restore. So I walked into a shop that restores antiques, not exactly my cup of tea.

Today at work I got to make 75 Rinderroulade, basically a long, wide piece of meat from a cow, with bacon, pickle slices and onions rolled up in it. Then we baked it for an hour adding homemade broth for the sauce and then we had our dish. had some of it, and it was mighty tasty.

Im heading off to Frankfurt on Monday to be trained by Berlitz Language Schools. Pretty soon Ill be a qualified, trained English teacher for Berlitz. The job pays well, the people there are fun, and it's very flexible. And apart from the 7 hours of training in Frankfurt, they pay for the hotel and transportation costs, meaning its like a free vacation. So Im pretty excited to be camping out in the transportation and finance hub of Germany for 5 days, with little cost

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Life at the restaurant is going good. After 4 days, I have a good idea of what goes into most dishes and what I can do to help. Been sauteeing up a lot of stuff and helping with the plating. Was doing more prep work the first couple days, but now am doing more cooking which is good.

The kitchen has two parts, one for the meat, and one for sauteeing all the veggies and pasta dishes as well as the salads. There is always a chef on the meat side, someone who has been around a while, while the younger guys (where I fall in) work the other side, making salads, sides, baked dishes, potatoes and such.

A great perk to the job is getting to eat whatever I want. After seeing all the big plates of food go out, I get to choose whatever. So far I have been just choosing based on what looks good. Then I find out after what I eat. So far what tasted like turkey turned out to be a suckling pig and a Rostbrätel comes from a pigs neck. Interesting, but very tasty. Most of the dishes come served with Thüringer Klöse, local potato dumplings that are typical of the region. Very filling and delicious.

Apart from locking my keys in my clothes locker, squirting a pea puree all over my white chefs jacket and wall and having to peel a lot of vegetables it's been a successful, fun week. And still one more day left. Hope to finish with a somewhat white jacket tomorrow.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Schnurrbart und Feuerkugel

Here's a quick German lesson. The first word, Schnurrbart which looks funny, means moustache, something that I find funny. It is also something that I have on my face after shaving the lower part of my goatee. Haven't seen my chin in over a year, so I'm spending a lot of time looking into the mirror, laughing mostly.

Reasons for a moustache: 1)it's funny, 2) I wear a scarf that covers up my chin most of the time so people probably already think I have a moustache, 3) Tom Selleck is the main and needs some more moustache wearing people

The second word, Feuerkugel means Fireball. It also happens to be the name of the restaurant where I will start my internship Monday morning. I'll be working about 5 days a week in the kitchen, learning the ropes and getting a good inside look into German cuisine. Looking foward to the opportunities there.

If you want to check out the restaurant, here is their website: All in German, but you might understand a few things.

If you click on the photos, you can see them larger in a new window

Thursday, January 3, 2008


The cold family with a view of the Prague Castle
I was in Prague in the summer of 2003 before the Czech Republic was in the EU. Then I had to change trains at the border and show my passport, getting a couple of nice stamps. This time, we were on the same train with no hassles, much easier, although we still had to take out Czech currency. It was fun to see the city again and get to know it even better. Our apartment was in the downtown so we walkd to pretty much everything and explored for pretty much all of the time we were there, about 4 days.

Charles Bridge

One of the best things about Prague is the Charles Bridge (as noted by all the tourists). Amazing bridge with great views, statues along the way, artists all over and always happy people. On one side you have the small town and castle town, dominated by the large Prague Castle overlooking the city. The other has the Old Town Square and many other popular places with amazing architecture. Wherever you go from the Charles Bridge is bound to be good.

The Golden Lane at the castle

Picture of governmental officials being thrown out a window due to their bad work

Old Town Square

To do something different than normal, we went on a communist tour learning about the Czech Republic’s history. Interesting, but mostly the extreme cases were told. And to celebrate Christmas Eve in a new fashion, we toured the Jewish quarter of town, learning about their hardships. And to drink soymilk, my sister and I had to mix a powder with water.

Christmas was spent around the city followed by an amazing classical concert by the Czech Philarmonic at a concert hall. The next day we explored the castle, with the cathedral being the highlight there. Saw several museums with the best one being the Mucha museum, with lots of works by the Czech artist. I had no clue who he was before, but his pieces are famous worldwide and are a unique style.


Brandenburg Gate and myself with the Christmas tree
Murdered Jews of Europe Memorial

Trinity and I near part of Berlin Wall on Potsdamer Platz

Me representing with the city's mascot, the Bear

Berlin can be a beautiful city when the sun shines. While I was there with my family for 3 days, the sun didn’t shine much, and it was cold, but it was a great time in the nation’s capital. It was my first time in Berlin so it was good to do all the touristy things and see the sights before going back in the future to explore more of the culture and behind the scenes of the city while visiting friends who live there.

Seeing the parts of the Berlin Wall all over the place was cool, along with the strip of bricks on the ground showing where the wall had been. Most of the main sights are in former East Germany as Stalin had looked at the map and chose the best side, giving the rest to the Americans, British and French.

We had a free tour of the city given by students working for tips. Interesting idea and actually a great tour. From Hitler’s bunker, to the Murdered Jews of Europe monument it was a great tour to get our bearings of the city. The Brandenburg Gate, which is very famous was huge, but not quite as powerful looking as I had heard. Still, I had to get a photo with the gate and the Christmas tree right next to it.

We climbed to the top of the Reichstag, their capital building, which has a glass dome on top. Unfortunately the dome is open air and it was a freezing walk to the top for a great view. Checkpoint Charlie was jam packed with information on people escaping into West Germany, but it wasn’t organized the best.

Highlights include the Christmas markets, with tasty snacks and mulled wine. We had dessert at a family friend’s house and were able to try Feuerzangebowle, a hot drink that is on fire with alcohol. They poured the flaming rum over a large sugar cube and melted the sugar into the drink. Amazing, but it packed a punch with the amount of alcohol.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Stuttgart New Years

I spent this New Years in Stuttgart with several friends. After traveling with the family for almost two weeks, I kept the travels going. It was a wild time. At a house party we all hiked up a big hill so we could see the entire city alight with fireworks. People were lighting them all over, behind us to the right, pretty darn close. The day after, the city was filthy with trash from the night before. Being good Germans, they waited until the 2nd to clean it up. They know how to party, and they know how to use a holiday, New years to not do any work, and then when it is a day of work, they do it right and clean it up.

The photo is dark, but you can see lots of light from the fireworks and see some trees if you squint. Sorry, but when it gets dark at 4:30pm, you have to expect midnight to be very dark.