whirlwind to be sure…

can somebody please turn the heat off! it was 80+ degrees this weekend in prague….and it’s darn near 90-degrees today. i know it is august and i know the germans are due their two weeks of summer but when september rolls around i certainly hope this whole “summer” thing is cleared up and we have good weather again! and yes, i have been completely spoiled by the insanely lovely weather this summer in germany. i really am going to be lost trying to acclimate to the east coast again soon. sigh.

well this weekend was our holiday weekend for my husband’s birthday. it was my goal to spoil him and give him a weekend that was just for him. here is hoping for mission accomplished!

our weekend started making sure we had all the things needed….

suitcases? check.

cameras? check

people? check!

passports? czech…oh- wrong ‘check’ but it was the right ‘czech’! ok, so i am ridiculous but i really enjoy silly puns, plays on words, double entendres, etc. are they silly? absolutely, but i still love them!

so as you may have guessed, we went to the czech republic this weekend. it was my attempt at giving my husband a birthday weekend just for him. and while no, j and i didn’t dislike it ourselves (!) it was about him. and why prague? well, it is one of the most romantic cities in the world, it has a ton of history (which my husband loves), and it has an astronomical clock (something my husband may love more than history!). so how could i go wrong?!

it is about a 5-6 hour car ride to the prague, depending on stops and so on. we left around 10am and just before 4pm we were driving through prague. and i was heartbroken. it wasn’t pretty or historical looking. matter of fact it looked dingy and blah. this was my husband’s birthday present? oh no!…………but it turns out we came in on the comercialized part of town and with a few turns and roads we were suddenly into every part of history and romance i wanted. beautiful old buildings and cobblestone streets and quaint restaurants and gorgeous cathedrals and and and! we were even a train for a little bit (as j pointed out and delighted in) since the road for cars is actually the same as the trains and you just follow along behind them as if normal traffic (see here)…

and thankfully with a good gps we turned onto our street, started up the hill, and were immediately stopped by polizei. they wanted us to open the hood of the car and the trunk while they also looked under our car. interesting! but apparently our hotel was right across from the u.s. embassy- so like a little bit of home. except the hotel was wunderbar! everything about the hotel was amazing. from the courtyard, restaurant, complimentary czech wine and cheeses daily, underground spa, location….the list is endless! so just see pics below!

in short the weekend was great. prague was amazing. everything it was reputed to be and while we short changed it a bit (no way to take in all of prague in 3 days) it is somewhere i think we would visit again. the architecture is amazing and the culture and sights- there just aren’t adequate words! j had a blast and while he called prague “frog” most of the time, he enjoyed seeing the sights nearly as much as we did i think! he also loved watching the puppeteers and even scored a puppet of his own to learn with- of course he asked for a puppet of a little boy kicking a soccer ball! i also got to enjoy a (sort of) date night with my husband with a private dinner just the two of us while j played with staff in the courtyard- in hearing distance but allowing marv and i a small bit of time to enjoy being just the two of us as well.

so the history of prague lends itself to a lot of different influences for architecture and it is easy to see a sampling of it all. from bohemian/romanesque, russian, gothic, nouveau, renaissance, etc….and those are just ones that i could pick up! the different tourist sites are as varied and eclectic as well- much like the vendors and artists on the bridge. you see painters and sculptors, watch puppeteers or marionette manipulators, hear beautiful bands or solo opera singers….there is truly a little something for everything!

i also learned that i need to go back for a wine tour! each time we went out to dinner or lunch or a late snack i ordered from the local selections. and i always seemed to order a chardonnay (i think i was trying to take it easy after the winefest!)…and i was always impressed. each glass was amazing and topped the last…..on different days, not just because i was drinking lots of glasses!!! the food was also a delight- and i found there were some consistencies. nearly every place offered a similar fare to this: large slabs of various meats, pizzas, soup-even in 80-degree weather, tiramisu, and some type of apple streudel.

also, for anyone traveling to prague or the czech republic- no need to worry about getting local currency. first off- they have places on every corner it seems to change currency or visit an atm. they seem to scream at you, “spend money here”…which of course is hard to resist! secondly, most places take euro- which is extremely helpful. the other handy thing- almost everyone speaks english.

here are a few pictures to wrap up this post; to wrap up our weekend we visited the strahov monastic brewery for some truely amazing beer on our way out of town….oh, and then we went back to the winefest when we got home for some music and closing night festivities…. from a monastic brewery to a winefest….what a weekend!

hats off….

the germans certainly love to dance. last night was our last night of the wine festival. it is not over but we are headed out of town for the weekend. it was my husband’s birthday this past week and so i am taking him to prague to celebrate in style.

so last night we went to the festival to make one more attempt at visiting the wine booths and listening to the (american) music. all in all we made it to 70 booths in six days. which appears to be about 75% of them….which has my husband slightly disappointed that we ruined his honor roll average with a ‘C’…..oh well! if we get back in time on sunday perhaps we can attempt to increase that a bit but we will see….

there we were, wine glasses in hand and watching the bands. we settled on our favorite stage that usually has bands playing an eclectic mix of blues, oldies, and rock n roll (all american of course). and watched. our son i think will grow up to be a rock n roll star as his favorite place was to stand on the edge of the stage and watch in awe. the singer played peek-a-boo several times with him and winked and smiled at him constantly…he would get embarrassed and run back to me…but he ultimately wound up right back on the edge of the stage!

and we are standing there and oh how the germans love to dance. they are so free. uninhibited. there are no standards for good dancers or bad dancers. or cool dancing or the latest moves. i mean sure, some dancers had natural rhythm or moves but for the most part they all just love to dance. any which way. and it’s awesome! it’s about whatever you feel and however your body moves. which is really neat to see people so into just enjoying dancing. i have noticed that the german people often times have much greater self esteems or at least seem to. and they seem to have just a free spirit about them- with less concern to what others think. and it seems as the “others” really don’t care. seems like less judging. everyone dancing with everyone, allowing each other room to move and laughing and smiling. very fun to be a part of. and of course we were a part of it- taking our opportunity to dance. my husband is an exceedingly good dancer and makes me thankful for the few dance classes i have had that allow me to follow his lead and keep up! and so we closed our night down with. “Hit the Road Jack” and whirled and twirled and spun and cut a rug across the city streets! j even got into it after seeing us dance and started to groove. it was adorable!

so hats off (very cute hats too!) to the germans. for being so free with their dancing and pure enjoyment and wine! it was a lovely festival. and while we did not hit every wine stand i suppose that just means we have a reason to go back ehhh?!!

so, here we go to prague so i can spoil my husband as is due for his birthday….first step (of course!) in spoiling him- a quick rest area where i’m splurging to pay for him to use the public restrooms. .70 euro cents- nothing is too good for my guy!

in other unrelated news…

since we have been in germany i have been enjoying the cool mornings, cool evenings, warm afternoons….and the occasional scattered showers throughout the days. i understand why umbrellas are carried on every trip to town regardless of what it looks like outside or the fact that there is 0% precipitation scheduled for the day. it will likely rain. nothing long, nothing too intense, nothing too cold. but for about 20-40 minutes there will be some sort of rain. ok- lesson learned!…..BUT, since the wiesbaden wine fest there has been no rain. none! for nearly five days now- no rain during the day! it’s almost as if the festival has forbid it to rain…..i can picture it now, barbara streisand singing “don’t rain on my parade” (or festival as the case may be). and how nice it has been. only problem now, well two actually….when it starts raining again i will likely be out of the routine of remembering my umbrella and now that i have commented it will likely start raining again….c’est la vie!

**(editor’s update/note: it did indeed rain the night of this posting. go figure! and happy birthday to my wonderful husband whom i love more than anything!)

work in progress…..

so mixed in with the winefest this weekend we did a little bit more sightseeing…..actually a lot more sightseeing. although we stayed local to the area. we learned about a whole new side of wiesbaden- courtesy of the ironman competition that was happening on sunday. it only took about about an hour and a half to go a normal 15 minute drive….that was interesting. we had to try several different roads to try to get across the ironman and it seemed we were thwarted every which way. although- when we finally found the right way we discovered a whole new side of wiesbaden. of course by then we were too tired to go explore but good to keep in mind for next time!

we also visited a church in town. it was in the market area and j wanted to go in because he kept hearing the organ and bells. speaking of the bells- i love living in a town that has several churches with bells. every 15 minutes they chime. and of course they chime more on the hour. but it is so convenient. as long as you know the hour you always know what time it is….well at least every 15 minutes you do. it completely eliminates the need for a watch or to check your phone. sooo nice! but anyways. we went into the chuch. before we went in i had instructed j on proper etiquette…there was to be no talking, if there was talking it was done in a whisper, he was to walk not run, etc. so in we go. and it went pretty well. he walked. he did talk but it was in a whisper that even i could barely hear. he looked and pointed and seemed to like it. and then he saw me sit on one of the pews and came over to sit beside me and ask what i was doing. so i (quietly) explained that people sit in the pews and bow their heads and say prayers- much like the bedtime prayer and the blessing before we eat. but that they say their prayers quietly. he of course asked, “what kind of prayers, what do they pray for?” ohhh what a question, so i gave it the best answer i could: “they pray for what they want, what is in their minds or heart, what they feel.”

silence. he was thinking. so then i told him that i was going to say my prayers and he should say his prayers. so together we bowed our heads and he intertwined his hands. and there was silence. and more silence. and i was about done with my prayers and ready to get up when i heard my son say oh-so-softly, “want a power ranger samurizer”….!!!! well, i suppose he prayed for what he wanted and while it wasn’t quite the right intent- he did make the attempt. and afterall, isn’t faith always a work in progress?…

Erfolg!!!

(Success!!!)

my husband, being orderly, logical, and pre-meditative planned how many wineries we had to go to on each day of the festival to have visited them all by the end of the festival. i found this out once we got there. i was informed that we had to go to zwölf (12) stands every day to see them all by next weekend. and my husband, in true form and fashion, was secretly aiming to visit more…he is an overachiever to say the least! so we made it to 18 stands last night. and while i would like to just leave that statement there and have people reading this blog believe that i have truly adapted to the german way of life and completely increased my alcohol tolerance….sadly i’m a fraud! we visited 18 stands and we sampled each of the wines….but rather than each getting a glass we ordered one- split it between our glasses so it was more of a “tasting” size and made it through the night that way! what can i say- i’m a cheap date! …..and i’m going to be so clearly outed as a foreigner come oktoberfest but i will enjoy it on my (small) level nontheless!

also, something i found odd….apparently we came to germany to hear lynyrd skynyrd- among others! yup, that’s right. last night there were drei (3) lives bands on various stages around the markt. and they were all playing american music! we heard ‘sweet home alabama’ and ‘cat’s in the cradle’ and ‘proud mary’ among others….i was genuinely surprised! i assumed their would be german music….then again as stated in a previous post i think most german music happens to be a lot of techno and so would not have made for good, mellow music while enjoying a glass of wine! but still! oh, and on another note….a friend of mine asked me if “the Hof” was a big deal over here. so far i can report that i have yet to see a single “i love the Hof” shirt so perhaps his time has passed even here in germany!

today our plans were to head to Neuschwanstein Castle and Switzerland….however, life may decide to have us stay home today to catch up on laundry and do some cleaning….darn it, even in germany life gets in the way! then again at least my reward for getting all my work done will be enjoying the weinwoche and musik this evening!

bis bald!

(warning- obscene amount of pictures to follow! hover mouse over each picture for a description.)

……….it was a truly great night!

it’s not pretty….

but it sure is funny….

when i was growing up, my grandfather would tap his index finger to his temple and say, “kidneys!” and that of course was the finest joke i knew of at the time.

now that j is growing up i have found myself (out of habit i suppose) tapping my temple and saying, “kidneys!”………..can anyone guess what this leads to?!

j now taps his head and says, “i have lots of kidneys!!”

or even funnier,when i don’t speak in german he will look at me and ruefully shake his head and say, “mom, you are not using your kidneys”

often times it takes me a second to figure out what he means, then it dawns on me, i have to hide a smile and i then admit that he is correct. surely this must be the equivalent of pointing in the air and saying “boat” when a plane passes by, or perhaps “cat” when you see a dog….nevertheless, it’s quite humorous. and afterall, i do plan on explaining it to him one day…..really, i do…..

leben ist gut

what does the title mean? well, if you don’t speak german imagine one of those little stick man caricatures leaning back with his arms folded over his head, lounging in a chair….yes, life is good.

why? well….i’m in germany. so that’s one thing. i’m surrounded by the two men in my life that make me the happiest- so that’s a (huge) other thing. i’m learning a new culture, language, foods, life- thats pretty gut also!

but……in addition to ALL these wunderbar things, this weekend starts the Rheingau Wine Festival. what is this? well, its only THE longest wine bar in the world during the week long event. where winegrowers bring their wines for sampling from the local regions and there is music and activities galore. and, like most events here in germany, it is for all ages. well, ok, not the wine itself. but there is a focus on family and activities for children in the midst of everything. its not about getting drunk (although don’t kid yourself i am sure there is some of that) its about sampling wine and enjoying music and some family activities. there is always a focus on families and kids over here. it’s refreshing. go to the zoo for the kids? enjoy a glass of wine while you look at the tigers. heading to the carnival? have a pils while you watch the entertainers. its a different culture. while i won’t say no one here takes advantage and gets drunk while staring at lions, tiger, and bears (oh my!!) adults are much more responsible.  alcohol isn’t some forbidden drink until you are 21. it’s introduced periodically throughout life and it’s respected. plus- there’s that whole you are responsible for your own actions. get drunk and act like an idiot? go to jail. get drunk and fall down some stairs in the town center? no, you’re not suing the city for over serving you or putting steps in an illogical place; you’re going to jail likely or fitting your own healthcare bills. i’m fairly certain that the ridiculous amount of lawsuits (which was increased by the mcdonald’s win over coffee being “hot”) that occur because people are just irresponsible, childish, and want to blame others for their silly actions would not come close to flying over here.

but i digress. back to the topic at hand. life is good. the wine bar this weekend gets kicked off on friday with shots (the alcoholic kind) by local officials and i will be there to see this festival and celebration….not to mention enjoying the longest wine bar in the world! i’m so excited! and then it’s off to possibly see sleeping beauty’s fairytale castle and switzerland….and who knows, maybe even a monster truck show for j! leben ist so sehr gut!