Oh, Zee Little Von

It's been a few days without writing or posting here. It's not that my life is event-less, quite the contrary, we've been "internet-less" on and off and I've been busy and lazy (yes, concurrently).

The church near our house in Viernheim, Germany.

Anyway, I've had a couple of very interesting things happen in the last few days. The first was when we were walking through Viernheim (the village where we rented our house) looking for a place to eat dinner. As we walked along these quiet cobblestone streets, past this church, I looked to my left and I saw an older man sitting on some steps smoking a cigarette. He was in his 70s or maybe even 80s. He said something in German and so I started walking over toward him. I said, “Gutenabend (good evening), Wo ist ein gutes resturant? (Where is a good restaurant?)” He started telling me about a place called, “Alteus Brauhaus” and telling me how good the Schweinefleisch Schnitzel is there. We had already been there and had that (and he is right, it’s outstanding!!) so I asked him for another suggestion. He turned to my wife, Jean, and asked, in German, if I was Italian. I told him that she was my Frau and that Summer was my daughter. He asked, “Sind Sie amerikanisch? (are you American?) I said yes, we are. He got very excited and hugged me and then kissed Jean and Summer’s hand (acted as he did). Then, in very fast and broken German started talking about how big and strong I was and that I was Amerikana… that he loved Amerika! (Not so much George Bush though) and wanted to hug again. We said thanks and told him good night. I suspect that he was a kid during the war and is appreciative of what he perceives as “America the Great” saving Germany and Europe in WWII.

What I would have given to catch all of that on video! These are the experiences that are forming me right now.

Here’s another story from last night. Our internet connection has been going on and off in our room lately. They say it’s due to storms and wet equipment. I’m not sure what it is. Anyway, we can sit in the lobby of the hotel room and get a great connection. So every once in a while we drop in and sit and drink beers and do stuff online. Last night we had the night-shift lady working. She is a bit “off’ but very interesting. She would scare you if you didn’t know her. She is in her early 50s and very German. She says she speaks English (and does a little) but really understands very little. Last night, as we struggled through some light conversation, I brought up the history of Germany and Hitler. She immediately piped up and said, in a very scary voice, rolling her eyes left to right and putting two fingers (middle and index) to her upper lip, “Oh, zee little one?” I almost lost it, it was both funny and bizarre! She continued on and made sure we knew he was Austrian, not German. And then, in quite articulate English, reminded us of our own genocidal past; the Native Americans and the African slaves. I was quick to point out that it’s in ALL of us to do terrible things. It’s just that the German’s past is the most recent and haunts many people who are still alive today.

These are memories and events that I will NEVER forget! This is why I love where I am and what I am doing.


The Jet Lag Is Almost Gone

Today was the first day with really clear heads, the jet lag is almost gone and our bodies are tired at night and alert in the day. So we rented a car.

What a difference wheels make! I missed driving. After getting our ID cards and eating lunch, we headed over to check out Grunstadt. The Grunstadt area is known for it's local wines/vineyards. They don't export the stuff, you have to come here to drink it. It's fairly close to the French border (we are already, Grunstadt is a 25 minute drive). The vineyards there are GORGEOUS! If you've ever been through Washington state or northern California, times that by ten and you'll start to get an idea of what the Grunstadt area looks like. To put this in perspective, the exit we took was called "Deutsche WeinStraße" (German Wine Street). We plan to check out other small villages this weekend. We want something that is close to a bigger city that allows us to access a bakery, cafe, pub and market easily. We'll find it, there are plenty of places to choose from here.

Also, this was my first day driving on the Autobahn. It's awesome! And yes, I drove fast (when appropriate and legal). My top speed was 170 Kmph (just shy of 110 mph) - it's good stuff! And yes, I was sober, very very sober! You DO NOT want to drink AT ALL here and drive, serious stuff!

We had dinner at "Alexandros" a Greek resturant/hotel a couple of miles up the road in Kafertal, Germany. Yummy!


Eye Candy Everywhere!

This city is full of eye-candy. I like the subtle things... today, shoes and socks intriguied me. I may start to make images of one thing a day and see how that translates???

I thought that the local area would keep us busy for a while and I was right. There is a lot to do within a five mile radius of here. It's a bit overwhelming. Recently, I've been taken with the food and drink (can you tell?). I can't wait to have family and friends come over and treat them to an Italian meal one night, then an Indian meal and then a German meal, etc. all authentic and very different from anything they've ever had. What fun that will be!

Mannheim is an industrial city - with BASF and several other plants.


Mannheim, Germany

The Stadtbahn into Mannheim is a wonderful ride. Although it's unseasonably warm here, it was a blast to go into Mannheim on the train.

Mannheim is a large city and reminds me a lot of Paris (believe it or not, I know it sounds silly). Maybe it's my virgin American eyes, but it has some very cool places and cafes/coffeshops/bakeries everywhere.

Tonight, we went downtown for dinner and it was another wonderful meal in Europe! We sat outdoors in the great little place called "Hemingways". The waitress spoke some English and with our very limited, broken, mangled German we were able to have a great meal and a lot of fun (can you say Knoblauch Es ist Weiss, Ja?)

Photos are not uploading tonight... I'll try to update this tomorrow with images.


New Tastes & Smells

I started "in-processing" today. I have to attend briefings, fill out paper work and watch Power-Point presentations. This will go on all week.

Jean and I just got back from visiting the housing department. We are scheduled to look at a house in Rheinau, Germany. It's 225 square meters, 6 bedrooms, apartment upstairs, fenced yard, terrace, etc. We'll see what happens. We're also second in line for a nice place near Grunstadt. I would prefer that area.

I got to video conference with my friend Caron last night. It was very enjoyable, technology is great! I hope we can do that more often!!

What a wunderbar dinner!! This is what I love (at least one of them). We had a little zin before dinner but these Wiener Wurstchen were the tastiest (a bit salty cooked in Olive Oil) with the Kohl!! There was a nice (dijon like) mustard and dill cream! The (peach) yogurt for desert was the creamiest and best I've ever had!! What can I say? The hits just keep on coming. Now if I can get some sleep tonight!!

Guten Nach!