Deutschland and beyond

Living in Germany

Weindorf, Spargel, and summer trends

 Well the weather here has been amazing (minus the past few days of course, but the vineyards need rain). Right now in Würzburg we have the Weindorf, or “wine village” in the town center, built similarly to the Weinachtsmarkt but with fewer stores and a lot more places to sit! I went last weekend with a friend and we enjoyed some local wines. They also serve something called a “bowle” which you can get with different fruits, usually strawberry or peach. Apparently it’s a combination of fruit, white wine, sekt (like champagne) and lemon. I didn’t try it; I thought it looked a little questionable (not to mention they were way overcharging for it)

 Another food and drink-related piece of information I’ve come to learn (but not understand) is the German appetite for asparagus. Yes, asparagus. And it’s not green here either, they eat the white variety. I’m not exaggerating when I say there’s asparagus everywhere. Since about the beginning of May, there are individual stands all over the city that exist solely to sell asparagus. Well, sometimes strawberries too, but only if you’re lucky. The daily specials outside of restaurants consist of combinations of food I wasn’t aware of which could include asparagus. There’s your basic asparagus with hollandaise sauce, but asparagus soup, asparagus with ham, or potatoes, or rolled in meat and baked with cheese and tomatoes, or in a casserole, or fried, or au gratin are all new ways I’ve learned that one can enjoy asparagus. I don’t particularly have an aversion to it, I just wouldn’t pick it off the menu given other, better options.

Food aside, it’s hard to believe I’ve only got one month left here. I didn’t get the extenstion, due to an abundance of first-year applicants and grantees- the second years wouldn’t get placed until all of the first years have a spot. A classmate of mine from BC will actually be at my school next year, and I’m really excited for him (and to dish a little bit on what to do/not to do).  This means the job search is on for me, yes, over here in Würzburg. I figured, next year’s completely open anyways, I like it here, have friends and my lacrosse team, so why not? I’m planning on coming back in August or September, regardless of the job situation (which will hopefully be resolved in the upcoming months). Druck die Daumen für mich! (German equivalent of “cross your fingers for me!”)

I am sad to be leaving the school though, I really like the students. I was interviewed yesterday since there’ll be a short piece on me in the yearbook (celebrity status) and it was a little sentimental, I definitely got “graduation goggles” (HIMYM reference, anyone?) thinking back on the past year. But my students in the 10th and 11th grades have begun to find me on facebook so I have a feeling we’ll keep in touch somehow. I got to do a lacrosse “sample-lesson” with some of my 10th grade girls last week, and they loved it! Five of them actually came to our practice Monday to watch, and they want me to start a U19 team for them which would be amazing! I’m doing the same lesson with the 10th grade boys next week, and a few of the guys from the men’s team are going to come in and help me out (plus it’ll be cool to see all of the pads/equipment/helmet).

Lacrosse ladies at the mafia party

Otherwise May’s been a pretty low-key month. No big travels, aside from Munich for a weekend to celebrate a fellow teaching assistant’s birthday as well as my first experience with EuroVision. EuroVision is a Europe-wide song contest, in which each country selects an act or singer to represent them. It’d be like American Idol consisting of 50 singers, one from each state. We watched the finals which consisted of I believe 30 or so acts and somehow Azerbaijan won. I wasn’t under the impression that Azerbaijan was even part of Europe but hey, they’ll host the contest next year now. Overall Munich was a great time, as always, and aside from a mafia-themed party Würzburg hasn’t been too wild. With the nice weather everyone’s outside grilling or enjoying a beer by the river (YES open containers are allowed) and I’m sad I won’t be here the entire summer.

But don’t worry, in June I’m sure I’ll get more than my fair share of traveling/more upbeat events. It’s a little sad, but also exciting, that every weekend from now until I come home I’ve got something planned! (and it’s all to do with lacrosse. surprised? you shouldn’t be) This weekend I’m going down to Vienna with another girl from my team here to play in the Austrian Lacrosse Open. Next weekend nine of us girls and ten of the guys are going to a training camp, and then from the 15th-27th of June I’ll be joining GlobalStarzLax, an American lacrosse team, in tournaments in Berlin, Hannover, and Amsterdam. I’m so excited! We’ll have a lot of opportunities to learn and improve as a team, and I’m so proud of the girls already for how far they’ve come. Oh and as a last note, we also were lucky enough to watch the NCAA championships this past weekend, congrats to both the Northwestern women and Virginia men’s teams on their titles! They were great games to watch.

Hope everyone had a happy/relaxing/fun Memorial Day weekend and next big American holiday- 4th of July- I’ll be back to celebrate in style!

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May 31, 2011 Posted by | Germany | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Post-Christmas (by Dad and Moe)

Alright, Maura claims to have a decent amount of input in this post, I’ll let you judge for yourself. Also, fair forewarning: Dad talks a LOT about art and history. I’ll let you know where to cut off and skip ahead to. Enjoy all the pictures he included as well!

Enjoying some German beers

I was able to see the white German countryside on our 3 hour train trip from Wurzburg to Munich the day after Christmas. My 5 companions all slept while we stopped at every little burg along the way. Our hotel was only 2 blocks from the Bahnhof (hey – I’m getting pretty good with this translation lingo). First stop in Munich was the local bierhalle (Schneider-Weisse). Maura like the weissbier and the hefeweissbier and even the dunkel. We ventured out to dinner near the South Gate (Sendlingertor) while Cala entertained us. She insisted on learning to count to ten in German. After multiple attempts and many corrections from Fraulein O’Connor, Cala got beyond fuenf (five) without laughing out loud and made it to zehn. Then she tried counting in French. Now we were the ones laughing as she grunted her way to dix. We all agreed she should stick to Spanish. Dinner at Ocui (open cuisine) was perfect. There are separate stations for pasta, stir-fry, salads, and beverages. Our adopted daughter Jessie stayed in the girls’ room – a forced quad. She won the single bed. The O’Connor girls all slept in the double bed and fought for covers all night. They were not happy until extra blankets were borrowed from an empty room.

Monday, Dec.27th: Cala and Jessie took the train to Dachau. Maura and Colleen visited churches, churches, and more churches.

at the Residenz

There was a beautiful white stucco church, churches with lots of stainglass windows, more churches that were bombed in WWII, and some more churches. Colleen and Maura also visited three out of the four gates of the city, and climbed the stairs of the Alter Peter, which provided a phenomenal view of Munich no matter where you looked. Karyn and I had a wonderful day at the Residenz – the former royal palace of the Bavarian monarchs (and here’s where you stop reading until the next paragraph, unless you’re a history buff). The Wittelsbach rulers used it as their residence and seat of government until 1918. The antiquarium (66 metre banquet hall with wall and ceiling frescoes and end-to-end statues) is over 500 years old. The architecture, interior decorations, and works of art range from early Baroque to Rococo to NeoClassical. The 4 hour short tour covered less than half of the 120 rooms. The royal treasury (schatzkammer) next door is 10 amazing rooms of jewelry, crowns, tiaras and many priceless religious items confiscated from the local monasteries since the time of Charlemagne (he be dead in 814).

St. George slaying the dragon

I especially liked the gold and enamel statue of St. George slaying a ruby and emerald dragon atop a gilded box decorated with opals, agate, chalcedony, pearls, and many other precious stones (1597). For history buffs, the cross of Queen Gisela of Hungary is in perfect condition – commissioned for the tomb of her mother Gisela of Burgundy, Duchess of Bavaria who died in 1006 and was buried in the Niedermunster (Abbey) in Regensburg.
After a siesta (Cala and I adopted a few Spanish customs), the group convened at THE Hofbrauhaus for a Happy Hour. The place was packed, the oompa band was playing, and nonstop prost, cheers, salud, na zdrowie, and a rare ege’sze’ge’re from Prague.

At the Hofbräuhaus

No matter what we ordered, most of the beers were served in the traditional one liter glass steins. It may have taken Cala 2 hours, but she finished her bier! Stumbling through deserted streets on a very cold winter night, we found our way to Cafe Osteria La Vecchia Masseria – ranked the #1 Italian restaurant in Munich by Lonely Planet. Plain wooden tables, a waiter with a sense of humor, and great food. Ravioli, pizza margherita, penne gorgonzola, and even lamb chops were excellent – with red wine of course.

 

December 28th– Karyn, Cala and I (Maura- I think the rest is supposedly by Maura) took the afternoon and went shopping around Munich. We found store after store full of scarves. We were also touristy and went into the little tourist shops to get gifts that say Germany. The one store that seems to be quite popular around Germany is H&M (here I- Colleen- will mention that H&M is actually a European store, not American). Every other block there would be an H&M: women’s, men’s, or both. Jesse and Dad walked up to the Alte Pinakothek – the art museum spanning the 14th to 18th centuries of “Old Masters”. (again, art and history. this is obviously by Dad. proceed to next paragraph)

art

A great way to spend a very cold day wandering through the Reubens, Rembrandts, Durers, a few old Italians, and even one El Greco (The Disrobing of Christ).The special exhibit was a group of 12 paintings from the city of Amsterdam’s Historical Museum. They were group portraits peculiar to the Dutch 17th century with their traditional black outfits, white collars and wide brimmed black hats with a tall crown (capotain) often decorated with ostrich plumes.The rare group painting of women displayed the black puritan style with immensely detailed white lace collars.Very austere. Needed a splash of color from Giovanni Battista Tiepolo – he of the fresco ceilings of the throne room in the Royal Palace of Madrid and the massive ceiling in Wurzburg at the New Residenz (1744) above the famous entrance staircase (Treppenhaus). Cala FAILED to mention this (english) guided tour through many many cold rooms which was one of the highlights of Christmas. Maybe all that bratwurst has dulled her memory.

(back to Maura?) Later that night we met up with Colleen’s old friend Basti, from the German exchange program way back in high school. We went to an Italian place with what I would have to say was the best pizza in Germany! After a brisk 4km walk, Colleen and Jesse went out with the guys “for an early night”. Cala’s definition of early is 11pm, so she started calling the Bavarian polizei at 2am to track them down (not really). I cannot say any more since she is a wonderful travel companion – but all ended well.

The next day we split up (none too soon!). Karyn, Colleen, Jessie, and myself took the train to Koln, and Cala and Tim took the train to Frankfurt for their flight home the next day!

January 15, 2011 Posted by | Germany | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Big One: Oktoberfest

Well I’ve chosen to spend the past two weekends attempting to hide my sorrows at Oktoberfest. “What sorrows could I possibly have to hide?” Just the fact that almost all of my friends have been reconvening in Boston for the two biggest football games of the year: Virginia Tech and Notre Dame, respectively. Luckily, I succeed in taking my mind off the games by getting dressed up in some traditional German clothes and surrounding myself with Germans/Americans/Australians/French/whoever was there.

So instead of this and this

I was with this and this

I’d say it’s a pretty fair trade off. So the first weekend, my friend Nadiya who’s currently doing a Fulbright in Kiel, came down to visit me on Friday then we went off to Munich together on Saturday. The train at 6am was packed and full of people in Dirndls and Lederhosen (traditional German outfits) and of course with plenty of beer. We were staying with my friend Basti who I met back in high school when our schools did an exchange program. We headed off to Theresienwiese aka die Wiesn aka Oktoberfest grounds around noon/1pm. Basti’s friend who worked in one of the tents … no longer worked there so we were on our own to try and get in. (this is not an easy task) But, after Nadiya sweet talked a doorman and Basti got a hold of someone’s bathroom ticket, we were in! (they give you tickets when you leave the tent to go to the bathroom so you can get back in, but I guess this person wasn’t going back). Also the term ‘tent’ is used loosely. There are 7 breweries in Munich, and each one has 2 tents at Oktoberfest. These tents are actually huge constructed wooden structures. They start putting them up at the end of July. (<– one of the ‘tents’ from the outside)

So Nadiya, Basti, and I spent Saturday inside one of the tents operated by Hacker-Pschorr (and hence Hacker-Pschorr beer) and had a great time. (Basti and I inside the tent)

Apparently one time wasn’t enough for me because I found myself on a train to Munich Friday afternoon. I was informed during the week that a junior friend of mine from BC studying abroad in Greece, Christina, was going to Oktoberfest this weekend. Not only that, but Friday was her 21st birthday. So I hopped on the train and found myself outside the Lowenbraeu tent 4 hours later. One of the best things about Oktoberfest is the ridiculous amount of people you meet (and they all tend to be rather eccentric). Here’s a brief rundown:

Italian kids: The second weekend (weekend I was there with Basti and Nadiya) is unofficially known as “Italian weekend” due to all of the Italians that come up. The first is full of…

Australians. And therefore unofficially known as “Aussie weekend”. We met a few Aussies and Italians on Friday night as well as some French people and Christina had “happy birthday” sung to her in no less than four different languages. The American version was started by…

Bob. Bob is a 50 year old American man who flew to Munich, spent no less than 200 Euros on Lederhosen, and was hanging out with everyone simply because “it was on his bucket list”. Luckily he had a soft spot for BC so we got along pretty well (despite the fact he went to a rival ACC school)

And last but not least… Germans: The Germans you meet at Oktoberfest cannot be claimed to be a representative sample of the overall population. In fact, a lot of the teachers at my school that I’ve talked with have never been to Oktoberfest. But, I have nothing but great things to say about all the Germans I met. They’re polite and make small talk with the Americans (when you’re with Americans) but once it’s found out you can speak German: look out. They want to know everything, how do you speak German so well, what are you doing here, let me buy you a beer, Prost (cheers) x 10, everyone standing on the benches and singing allllll the time. Being in the tent is a total time warp and before you know it six hours have gone by and you’re eating gebrante mandeln (roasted almonds).

Christina got us in on Saturday after we showed up at 10am and they claimed all the tents were already full. She pulled the ‘it’s my 21st birthday these are my friends’ speech with a waiter (which is who can definitely get you in) and we met some more great people back in the Hacker-Pschorr tent on Saturday. I couldn’t bring myself to leave Munich on Sunday early- Christina and her friends went back to take pictures at Oktoberfest but I miss Munich so much and the weather was so nice. I laid in the Englischer Garten and read before visiting Marienplatz and the Deutsche Bank…

I know I know I already have a ski-like winter jacket which I’m sure will be put to good use in the German/Austrian Alps this year. What a rough life. But since I pretty much spent all my money (that I brought) at Oktoberfest, I took advantage of the close proximity of a Deutsche Bank to withdrawal money from Bank of America without a fee. Thanks to the ATM, it gave me 100 Euros in the form of a 100 Euro bill. Great. So I chose to break it today by *sigh* buying a stylish winter coat (the real one is actually gray striped). I’m filing that as “necessary seasonal clothing” in my expenses.

(I apologize for all of the over-media-stimulation in this post. I feel I could talk on and on about Oktoberfest but pictures are better) Overall, two very successful and fun weekends. Now what next…

October 5, 2010 Posted by | Germany | , , , , , | 1 Comment