30 October 2005


...I haven't blogged in ages. My computer is being repaired (faulty RAM slot), so I have been using my old, slow laptop. Which means that I can't easily edit my photos and squirt them over to Flickr so that I can blog about them.

Well, that and the late days at work + I have been out almost every night the last two weeks entertaining some colleagues from the US. Basically it all ends up with blogging being the last thing on my mind (the first thing usually being sleep).

Hopefully things will calm down a bit and I can get back to informing friends, family & complete strangers about what's happening in my life.

Here's a preview: Today we rode our bikes out to the Heuchelberg and took some great pictures of the vineyards and other beautiful fall leaves.

Hopefully in the next few days I'll get my computer back, and I can show some photos.
Until then, happy Halloween!

17 October 2005

The Curse of Stuttgart

The plan was to spend a Sunday in Stuttgart. Despite how close it is, we had only been there together once before, about 18 months ago, and it wasn't much fun since I got sick somehow. We were a bit lazy getting out of the house, and we ended up missing the first train, so we had a half-hour to wait for the next one. That meant I had some time to take pictures in the train station, which is always fun.

Part of the reason that we were late is that every ATM within a short distance of our house was out of order, so we had to look up where the "Cash Pool" machines are in Stuttgart. So, after taking care of that, we proceeded to the Schloßplatz, which does have a couple of castles hanging out there, but there are actually more fountains.

The weather was beautiful. That wonderful autumn not-too-hot-and-not-too-cold weather, with clear skies.

We wandered just a small part of this vast city, and after several hours it was time to find a place to have dinner. Our rather old guidebook recommended an area of town, so we headed there. At first it didn't seem promising, but eventually we stumbled across a Vietnamese restaurant. One thing I have been missing in Germany is Vietnamese Noodle Bowls (Bun). The Vietnamese restaurant in Heilbronn doesn't have them, neither did the one we found in Dresden. So I was elated to find one in Stuttgart. And it was quite yummy.

But, the curse of Stuttgart (for us) continued. On the way back to the train station, Jeannette missed a step and fell down, twisting her ankle. So, I helped her hobble back to the train station, with small pause to take a picture of the moon peeking over the Neues Schloß.

The Moon and Neues Schloß

16 October 2005

It Must Be Fall

It Must Be Fall
In Iowa, the maple trees turned brilliant colors. In Texas... well, nothing really changed colors because the weather was never really cool. Sometimes I forgot it was fall until all of a sudden it was Thanksgiving. In Colorado the aspen trees turned brillant yellow. Here, in Heilbronn, my first clue that it is fall is this brilliant red ivy.

I never even noticed it in the summer, but a couple days ago on my way home from work, there was absolutely no way to miss it.

15 October 2005

The Best Waitress in Germany

Irish Pub?
Back when we had a car, we drove by Finnegan's Irish pub many times. Now carless for 10 months, we have even walked by it a couple times. Last night, most of the typical places we visit were involved in a city-wide shindig that requires a cover (and we're all fairly anti-cover). So, we decided to go to this Irish pub, despite it being out of the way.

When we got there, I was pleasantly surprised to see the board outside the door announcing that Köstritzer was only €1! Woo hoo! That's one of my favorite beers, and it's not too common around here.

So, we went in and ordered. Three of the four of us ordered the Köstritzer, and when we got it, we commenced with the obligatory prosting before we took a gulp of our beer. Instead of the smooth, slightly chocolaty black beer taste I love, my tongue was assaulted with a harsh and bitter lemony taste. It was like somone had used lemon dish detergent and forgot to rinse. I discussed this with Jeannette and Ursula, and they both tasted the same thing. Something was amiss.

In a few seconds, the waitress was at the table and asked if everything was OK, because she saw us all make a disgusted face when we drank the beer. We explained how something wasn't right about it, and she offered us a replacement. I watched her go back to the bar and pour herself a small glass and taste it herself. When she returned with a different beer variety, they were on the house. She agreed that it wasn't right.

This waitress gets the award for best in Germany, because not only did she replace our defective beer without a fuss, she also recognized that there was a problem without us even having to ask. That's very unusual, and not just in Germany.

12 October 2005

Hoeing Outside my Window

Hoes Outside My Apartment
For some reason these women were hoeing right outside my window.

11 October 2005


Misty Neckar

It was misty again this morning. This time I got off my lazy ass and took a picture. I hope you're happy.

10 October 2005

2 Extra Points

Today, my boss asked me a questions, and when I gave him a good answer, he told me I get two extra points. And he was so happy, he said he would call my wife and tell her to let me have an extra beer tonight.

So I'm drinking the first (non-bonus) beer right now.

09 October 2005

Misty River

There was this great mist (english, not german) hanging over the Neckar this morning. I thought "hey, that would make a great picture". But it is Sunday morning, I'm feeling lazy and I am still wearing only my robe, so I decided to skip it.

Maybe next time.

08 October 2005

Luzern or Lucerne. Take Your Pick.

Luzern at Night
After leaving Julie in Basel, we hopped on a train to Luzern. In our hastily planned couple of days in Switzerland, we picked it for it's location and our outdated guidebook's indications that there might be something nice to see there.

Wow, what a great looking town. It has this "wow-factor" with the towers and wooden bridges and stuff that makes me think that Luzern was very reluctant about leaving the middle ages.

Jail or Hotel?Slammer!
As I mentioned earlier, in what I thought was a very amusing way (but apparently not, because of the complete lack of comments about it) we spent the night in the old city jail, which had been converted into a hotel. The rooms were small and barren, but served their purpose - a warm, dry place to sleep.

One interesting thing about Luzern is that I heard more English spoken there than anywhere else in contenental Europe. It was actually pretty strange. But I tried to ignore most of it, since the majority of things I heard were stupid things that oblivious American tourists say. Take this, for example:

American Tourist Woman: Oooh, look. They buy their fruits and vegetables outside.
Tour Guide: Yes, some people prefer to shop at the markets, but are only here every Monday and Thursday.
American Tourist Man: What if I get hungry on Wednesday?

I had to force myself to pretend that I didn't understand them. Taking pictures at the market helped.

There were some nice, shaggy cows in Luzern
And some buildings with character.
And one of the old wodden bridges has a series of paintings called "The Death Dance".
Here are a couple samples:
Totentanz 6
Totentanz 9
Totentanz 15

It was a fun trip. Luzern would have been nicer if the weather wasn't cold and cloudy, and it was even worse because the sun came out about 15 minutes after the train left Luzern. It seems like there is a lot of stuff to do in Swizerland, so perhaps we'll be back. Heck, we might just get hungry and have to get down there for the market on Monday.


03 October 2005

Basel (rhymes with Nozzle)


The real reason we had been bouncing around Southern Germany the last couple days in our little vacation is because we were planning on meeting Jeannette's friend in Basel, Switzerland, on Saturday. So we left Breisach early in the morning, changed trains in Freiburg and chugged away towards Basel. We got there about an hour before we expected to meet Julie, so we went to a market in a park near the hotel. We screwed around for a while, and ended up buying a couple CDs. (Jeannette got "We Love Life" by Pulp and I got "Skull Ring" by Iggy Pop). But it added another chunk of proof to my theory about foreign currencies. That things are not necessarily priced by their value, but by a convenient number. For example, the CDs at the market in Basel were 10 Swiss francs. Nice round number. But converting back to Euros meant we were getting a heck of a deal. (Compared to the outrageous prices for new CDs in a store, but the price we paid was actually pretty close to what I think a NEW CD should cost!)

Jeannette, Julie & the Pylon

OK, I am getting way off on a tangent there... When we eventually met up with Julie, we decided to find the "Dreiländer Eck", which is this pylon sitting on a slice of land that marks a point that is supposedly the intersection of the French, German and Swiss borders. It was right next to the Rhein river, but we still didn't believe that we were actually jumping across a border as we ran around that fancy pole.

This place is a nice restaurant in Basel.

Jeannette and Julie Doin' the Dishes.
But unfortunately they made us do the dishes!

We spent a lot of time exploring Basel (some not as successful as others), but eventually Julie had to get back to Geneva to catch a plane and we had to hop on a train to Luzern.

... to be continued in Luzern ...


02 October 2005

Short Vacation, part 2


I really didn't intend to wait this long before continuing the story of our little mini-vacation. I really don't know why it has been so long... Sorry!

Anyway, we stayed in Freiburg for only one night, because we planned this trip at the last minute, and all hotels in Freiburg were booked for the weekend because of some sort of trade fair. So we opened our maps and found the biggest nearby town, which happened to be Breisach.


The weather was pretty lousy, and that's the best picture I got of town. We did a short walking tour, which covered all of the major sites in town by early afternoon, so we hopped on the bus (after stupidly not boarding a train that would have taken us to our destination an hour earlier) and rode out to Jechtingen and then hiked to some ruins called "Burg Sponek".

Sponek Ruine Sponek Tower

We decided to come here because a brochure in the train station recommended it as a nice thing to do. So we were a little surprised to find out that the ruins are on private property, fenced in and guarded by one or more vicious sounding dogs. So, after a short wander around the outside, trying to decide which bits are Roman ruins, which are medieval and which bits are modern, we wandered back towards Jechtingen. On the way, still in the middle of nowhere, we stopped at a Biergarten and had a drink.

Ivy Invasion
Back in Jechlingen, I saw this crazy, ivy-covered house, and thought that maybe I need to trim my beard.

We hopped the train back to Breisach and planned to catch the city tour guided by a monk that would describe life in Bresach in the 14th century. (Or something along those lines). But it started to rain. Very extremely heavily. since we didn't have an umbrella or a 2nd pair of shoes (thinking about the next day, we were!), we decided to grab a couple beers and call it a night.

... To Be continued, in Basel, Switzerland ...