Jan 30, 2011

Schloss Rosenstein

We are starting to get a hang of "Sunday life" in Germany.  It seems, the best activities are to tour & Eat, since only restaurants and (some) attractions are open.  At first it was quite an adjustment because in Alabama, Sunday afternoons meant our big trip to Costco, Publix and probably a quick trip to Target before the football games came on t.v.  But now,  we have learned to plan our shopping list prior to our Saturday morning dash to the Butcher, Baker, and Produce store since some close by early afternoon. (This difference is one that words just DON'T describe....just wait and experience it when you come visit us.)
 However, we have quickly adapted and are enjoying our family outings on Sundays.  Today we took the train out to Rosentein Park which is a very large English style Garden that sits right on the Neckar River. It was a SUNNY Day (WOO-HOO) but I have learned not to let the sun trick me into thinking it will be warm out!   Over the past few weeks, I have been plowing thru our  library of  Stuttgart brochures,  most of which are written in German.  I was determined to find the Natural History Museum with the big Dinosaur bones since I had promised the kids a visit.  I swear it has taken me over a week just to be sure that this museum really was located here in this park.   Many of the German words all still look alike to me and then add the fact that many things seem to have the same name, then add the fact that there are TWO Natural History Museums in Stuttgart. So, I finally had this Rosentein Park all figured out, well almost....I somehow missed that there was a HUGE playground also located on the grounds.  That translates to hearing Cooper say all afternoon, "I am tired of Museums....I need some fresh air at the playground....can we go to the playground now...I have seen enough bones....You promised we could play on the playground....."


Cooper chasing the pigeons

 
 So, I thought I would clarify each area so I could refer back to my post when we decide to return to the zoo-also located here in the park.  
 The Park is called "Rosentein ParkKing Wilhelm I,  had it constructed between 1824-1840.  This park served as the Gardens of the King's Palace. (think of a small version of Central Park. ) You can feel the energy as soon as your feet hit the Park/Garden. People are riding bikes, running, walking, and even one group was taking a guided tour complete with binoculars hanging from their necks. I can only imagine the Rose Gardens this the Spring!

Located within the Park: 

  There are two state Museums of Natural History.  What blew my mind...  some of the original collections date BACK TO THE 16TH CENTURY!!!! Really?!?!?...people were studying dinosaur bones and fossils that far back?!?!?  I know that sounds a little naive-but hey, we all learn new things in life.  We visited both museums which included a 15 minute walk from one to the other, so we decided to save the zoo for another visit....and yes, Cooper was able to enjoy the park AND chase the pigeons. 
  • Wilhelma Zoo- was originally the private retreat of a king (I guess the large Garden's and Palace just weren't enough of a retreat....)  It is now a large zoological and botanical gardens.  We will be returning soon I think....
  • First stop......Museum am Löwentor- exhibits of fossils, dinosaurs, and Ice Age man. At last, the museum I had been promising the kids since prior to our move.
We made it!

Look-their really are dinosaur bones..
"Hey, Jason got any food?"


look at the little people

more bones-and they aren't Dreamland's

Walking thru the Park to the next Museum
Next stop- Schloss Rosenstein -the palace King Wilhelm I had constructed between 1822-1830.  (see what I mean about looking alike or having the same words)  The other Natural History Museum with exhibits of biology, the evolution of living species, fossils, a HUGE collection of insects/butterflies and a skeleton of a Sea whale.  (There are MANY 'stuffed' animals, some depicting scenes in the wild.  Let me tell you, I wish I had translated this German brochure a little more. Try explaining to a 5 and 6 year old why some exhibits had vivid "circle of life" scenes was not my idea of fun.  Moving on....
Schloss Rosenstein


Karina taking her pictures

My favorite...

Mom-"What is that Polar Bear doing to the Seal?"


Jan 29, 2011





 Jason and I have been hiking running thru the surrounding Forests around our house since we moved here.  It is both of our favorite place to run (and Rocky's) because of the unbelievable beuaty and peacefulness.  Today we decided to do what many German families seem to do on the weekend......

...Go for a family hike in the Forest.  I continue to be amazed by the amount of people of ALL AGES that are always out hiking thru the Forest.  And let me make this clear, it isn't some little ole tree covered patch of ground.... It is a FOREST as in Robin Hood.....as in there is space enough for anyone (and especially me) to get lost. There are numerous paths which crisscross all thru the trees around streams, uphills and back down.  Within this particular forest, every few km is a sign giving various information about the area.  I have never been able to fully translate these signs, but thankfully, I had Jason today.  As he translated one of the signs, I couldn't help but to feel somber.  He was reading to us how this big hole we were standing in front of,  was formed by a bomb in WWII.  The sign explained how they are finding new pieces of these bombs every year and asked to please not take any findings as a souvenirs. (picture at the end of post ) ( I will not write about this now, but living in a town where the families were impacted so heavily from the war and  beginning to hear personal bits and pieces is very emotional.  This topic will be saved for much later in our years here in Germany.)

So now for a funny side note at my own expense, I thought many of the "elder" adults carried walking sticks in the Forest so they wouldn't slip on the ice and snow.  I recently was told by my friend as she was laughing, that they are actually called, "stick-walkers" or "Nordic walkers".  It is a huge sport here in Germany.  I couldn't take a picture of any of these walkers to show you because they are in great shape and could kick my butt if they didn't like me taking a random picture of them!  Another funny today, (at the kids expense) We were walking under a large patch of 80-100 foot tall pine trees, or as Cooper says, walking on the "dark side" of the Forest.  All of a sudden the kids start excitedly yelling, "look a playground"!!  I guess they are getting used to playgrounds popping up every few feet now.  When Jason and I looked closer, we both began laughing--they were climbing on the hunting stands!  We didn't have the heart to tell them they weren't playgrounds!!! 


Germans seem to have a deep respect and passion for their Forests.  There is information everywhere about all the purposes a forest serves-water reservoirs and fresh air reposites, to list a few.  It definitely served a purpose for us today, we got a chance to spend a great day together as a family!
Jason and Karina

Who could ask for a better way to DE-thaw after our hike than a hot bubble bath, Andre Bocelli  playing, a glass of red wine, Jason cooking dinner and relaxation two kids crawling in with me.  Jason had a nice fire going when we emerged and Cooper decided we should have a picnic.  What a great way to end the perfect day!
Peace...

One of many Forests near our house

streams are so cold-Rocky won't go in..

Signs along the path
Add caption





Sign Jason translated for us....

standing in the hole

Jan 28, 2011

Fresh Market Day

It is Friday....this brings joy to me in many ways ---like knowing I can sleep past 6:15 in the morning, having an extra set of hands to help manage the kids energy for the next two days, but the BEST thing about die Frietage.....FRESH MARKET DAY in Sillenbuch.  Every town has it's own  "Außer Stadtbezirke" on certain days of the week.  Sillenbuch's is always on Fridays and is only a 10 minute walk from the house.  When we first arrived here, we were given a book, "Lust auf Frisches-Direktvermarkter in Stuttgart" which lists all the local farms from which you can buy directly items such as,  vegetables, eggs, fruit, milk, wine, potatoes, flowers...you get the picture.  If you aren't able to make it to them, they come to your area one day a week.  I have found food to be very fresh here in Germany (as in straight from the source) and you pretty much have to shop daily.  That isn't because I like to shop everyday, it is because our refrigerator is the size of a Coleman cooler.  However, I have enjoyed the freshness of the meals we eat....and yes, there is a HUGE difference. 

I had Guests coming over for afternoon Tea today and was on a mission for something sweet to serve with the Tea.  The family run Bakery that is at the fresh market always has the most divine looking breads and cakes that yell, "BUY ME" every time I walk past.  Today I was brave enough to venture out of my norm of ordering and asked, "was ist süß und ist gut mit Tee?" (What is sweet and good with Tea) The Baker pointed to an interesting looking cake, told me what it was (which I didn't understand a word of) and told me his mother always had this cake with her Tea.  If it is good enough for a mother, it is good enough for my guests today. (My German guests explained that it was not a coffee cake, but rather a poppyseed cake) I decided to buy Jason a big "Stück" (piece) of Apple pie which was more like a strudel, his favorite....until he bit into it tonight and realized that they had also added raisins.  Oops...I guess that was the word I didn't understand.   
Fresh cheese

Fresh olives and goat cheese

Fresh olives-I bought ones stuffed with almonds today

Once you taste this fresh...you can never go back!


Tons of fresh flowers

Butcher

Produce

you pick out a carton, then pick your eggs...

Poultry

Jan 27, 2011

Just Being...

I wasn't going to blog today because I have promised myself that I will use some of my "writing time" to study my German instead.   However, like most days since moving to Germany,  I experienced too many things that I just don't want to forget and therefore have to write.  (The real reason I write this blog- my mind likes to play hide and seek with my memory)

Today I was in a state of "JUST BEING"  Like a child, I took in all the sights, sounds, smells of my surroundings as I ventured through my day... the crunch of snow under my feet, the old church bells ringing, the German conversations flowing so smoothly (not mine), the horn honking behind me when I didn't go the minute the light turned green, the smell of fresh bread streaming from the bakery, the windshield wipers fighting to get the ice off my windsheild, the train whizzing by me on the drive to Stuttgart and my heartpounding when I could get out of my 2 x 4 parking space in the Parkhouse.......

I had my second visit to the hair salon since moving.  My German was much better this time and I actually enjoyed my appointment.  Funny how my 2 hours is just as much a German lesson as Tuesday and Friday mornings. I think there is a bit of a difference between my salon visits in the States and here.  When I sat in the chair she told me very straight forward (as in not scared she would hurt my feelings) what she thought would improve my hairstyle.  I am slowly getting used to this very direct approach in Germany, now that I understand it is part of the culture.  After washing my hair, just like my first visit, she plopped my chair back and started working on my face.  She literally spent 2 1/2 hours on me for the price of cut and color without ever asking me to buy a single product.  Besides the cut and getting rid of my grey, she massaged my head, fixed my eyebrows (even though I didn't know they needed fixing),  gave me a complete makeover and taught me numerous German words since the majority of our conversations are in German.  I was starting to wonder why on both of my visits she had given me such a lavish treatment.  So, of course, I asked her, "warum du das alles für mich?" (Why do you do all this for me...informal 'you' because she said to use "du) At this point I was scared her answer might be, Cause you look like death warmed over.  BUT, instead she responded, "It is important to feel good when you leave a salon"  Well let me tell you, I felt great.

I had an hour to kill before picking up the kids, and asked what would be a good restaurant close by. She asked me if I like Asiago cheese or so I thought.....Again, bad translation.  She really had asked me if I liked Asian which in German sounds like Asiago to me.  I decided to try this restaurant, Reisekorn (after getting home, I googled and of course it is a Gem here in Stuttgart-check out their website-

http://www.das-reiskorn.de/

It was beyond words to describe this local Gem! If I had been a tourist here, I never would have known about this restaurant.   I don't know how Ruth Reichl (one of my favorite authors and food critic) does her job, because I experienced all the sensations she talks about when eating a meal that are difficult to describe
Menu:
Karroten Linsen suppe (I understood the carrots, but when I asked if they could explain what I was tasting besides the carrots....their base is Coconut and Lemongrass with a touch of curry) 
Gebratanes Huhnchen in einer Mandarinen-curry Sauce mit Gemuse auf Safranreis.
 Ending with a perfectly brewed cup of Schwarzt Tee

Then the most incredible thing was said today by both of my children..."I love it here"  I'm not even sure why I spent so much time stressing about them acclimating before the move.
Here are the reasons they told me that like it here-
  • Cooper tells me he likes school here better than Alabama because he gets to do Math (Is he really my child:)
  • Karina really likes her classmates and has been invited to play with TWO Friends this week after school.  She told me "mommy, my friends are all so nice to me"
  • Both are picking up German and have now joined a "Little German Explorers" class after school.  Cooper keeps saying, "Guten Tag" (Good day) to me when he knocks into me or steps on Rocky....He means to say "Entchuldigung" (excuse me)

Well, time for me to think about shoveling the snow off the sidewalk or studying my German.

Jan 26, 2011

Tauschring

My cold walk to train station


Today was just one of those "strange days".  We had a babysitter coming, but Jason ended up having a late meeting. Despite the downpour of snow and my awful cold, I decided to utilize the sitter and go downtown to get a little shopping done.  This time my umbrella was in hand as I walked to catch the train.  I have finally figured out why people carry them in the snow- It is NOT to keep the snow off, but rather to block the gust of frigid wind that plays freeze tag with your face.

First stop- The four story bookstore "Wittwer" which covers almost a city block.  I had a gift certificate from Christmas burning a hole in my pocket.  Note to self-Don't do so much research and type up lists of books to buy when there is a limited English section consisting of 5 bookshelves.   I had to laugh at myself standing there with a 3 page list.

 Next stop-boot shopping. I have finally figured out that high heel boots and snow/ice DO NOT get along well.  People always talk about the "poor customer service" in the German stores.  I had yet to find this true.....until tonight.  Maybe I scared the clerks with  my big ole white down coat, my huge peasant wool gloves, ear flap dutch hat and my Southern accented German. I have to say I started feeling a little insecure due to the language barrier, and my lack of knowledge on the correct shoes size in EU measurements.  Then add in the fact that In Germany the shoes are on numerous shelves organized by size, not by style. So, you find the little plaque with sizes and see what is available in your size.  That is.....if you can find the little plaque and know your size. Enough of that...

Next stop-I was off to find a new hat.  This is where the fun begins. After finding the perfect hat, I began asking the sales people where the "Kasse" was located.  Their answers and my bad understanding of fast German, sent me on a wild goose chase.  I never could find the Kasse (Cash register) but did figure out that I had dropped one of my gloves somewhere in Breuninger (Huge store like Macys on 5th)  I stood there and just started laughing.  I mean really, I am already in a store that makes me nervous and now of all things to lose in the frigid weather when I still had a long walk back to the train.  I tried to find the word on my I-phone for "have lost" but the 3G network was down and the store was closing in 10 minutes.  UGH..this meant a call to Jason during his meeting. After the call, I begun my rounds and I do mean rounds, of asking in German "Ich habe meinen Handschuh verloren. Haben Sie Handschuh gefunden? ( I have lost my glove, have you found a glove) After saying this to five people-BINGO, one sales clerk said yes and gave me a quick answer in German.  I caught customer and four, so I started my next round of questions in German, "wo ist das Kunden-Center "  (Where is the customer center)  I made my way across what felt like a mile long hike to the other end of the store and up to the fourth floor only to be told, "wir haben keinen Handschuh!"(We don't have any gloves)  But what do you know....another Customer Service lady took one look at me (I am sure I looked really scary at this point with my nose running from the cold, face red from embarrasment and sweating since I still had on my down coat, wool scarf and there heat was turned up to 90degrees!) She quickly told the other lady where my glove was located. 

Next stop....This is where is gets WIERD....I am on the elevator and to the point of JUST GET ME OUT OF HERE.....when I hear a lady yelling what I think is "geschnitt....geschnitt..geschnitt" (to have cut over and over)  Well just today I had learned the past tense of "To cut" and why is that lady yelling that to me?!?!? She jumps on my elevator and starts talking very quick German to me.  I have no idea what she is saying so I just answer "Ya" with a quick head nod.   When the door finally opens, I almost start running.....I need fresh air!!!  Then I hear the same voice calling me again, but this time in English.  I turn with dread....."yes, I answer her, I am American" She then asks, "Can you help me with an English Verb Participle I don't understand" Little did she know she had picked the WRONG person to ask any type of English Grammar clarifications. I do pretty good just to speak any language much less dissect it for you.  Long story short....she stood there and talked to me about Grammar rules for French vs. English vs. German for 20 minutes as I stood there thinking "HOW DO THESE PEOPLE ALWAYS FIND ME?"  I knew we (SHE) was coming to the end of this conversation when she asked, "What sector are you with"  Me, "Sector??? what is a sector?"  Her," well you don't look like agriculture"  me, "What the heck, I have no idea what you are even asking me"  Then she asked if I was a part of Tauschring.  I had no idea what that was and needless to say,  I got real nervous.  All I could think of was that this lady was in some sort of crime ring and wanted me to join. (thanks to my  wild imagination)  When I got home and translated this term, I learned what "Tauschring" truly means.  You can see the brief explanation I copied from the internet at bottom of post.


tapestry on ceiling!
enjoying my soup
Next stop-Wine cafe --because I NEED a glass of wine after the last hour of crazy.  I had heard of " Scholz" but it was better than heaven compared to my last hour.  This cafe has big glass windows, dark black tiled floors, tapestries of kings and horses line the ceiling, little leather chairs and couches surround the tables which allow you to watch the trendy crowd inside and the snow outside.  I had the best tomato soup- with bits of fresh mozzarella which was accompanied with a piece of rye bread and a nice big glass of "Rot Wein".

Between my hot meal and a peaceful walk to the train station that allowed me to take great photos of the city (people weren't out because the snow turned to rain) I decided it was a pretty good day after all.... Here are some pictures of the Stuttgart on a quiet desolate night.
The contrast of "old" mixed with "new"

I doubt he was in a Tauschring
Again, "modern museum" built right by the Palace
 Tauschring emerged in Germany in the mid-1990s for the same reasons they emerged elsewhere: economic recession, high unemployment and lack of money. The situation was exacerbated by reunification of east and west Germany. Unemployment levels are still 20 or 30% in some parts of East Germany today.  Tauschring, through which people with little or no money could trade objects and favours (Gib und Nimm; ‘Give and take’).Through the exchange circle, people came in contact with each other in a new way. They felt useful and worthwhile and appreciated the social aspect of their contact.





About Me

My photo
Stuttgart, Germany, Germany
We moved from Alabama to Stuttgart, Germany in December 2010. This is a great adventure for our whole family that we enjoy sharing.
>