Thursday, July 23, 2015

Culture Shock: Food edition

I remember when I went to other countries they warned us of culture shock.  I don't remember the details about the timing or the symptoms but I think I've definitely hit it.  While on the surface, it first seemed like Germany was very similar to Texas, I'm finding lots of differences in daily life.  Here's some food related differences I've noticed...

1. No drinking the tap water ever.  The Germans just don't do it.  Only bottled.  It's not unsanitary as far as I know and perfectly fine if I wanted to drink it, but its just not done.  And we don't have an ice machine so I'd probably have to drink it luke warm :/.  This means multiple purchases a week of bottled water large and small.  We also use bottled water for tea and coffee.  This took some getting used to.  I'm used to filling up my water jug with cold filtered water from the fridge (and ICE from the freezer).  This also means you pay for bottled water at restaurants.  No umlimited ice water. 

2. That brings me to the issue of Ice.  I haven't had one single cold icy cube since we got here!  I know I could freeze some but it would probably be from my bottled water supply and that just seems tedius to do on a daily basis.  Not something I miss really anyways but definitely different.

3. Bakeries everywhere!  There are multiple bakeries on every street and several in each train station.  They have lots of rolls, croissants, donuts, twists etc.  Yummy and cheap.  This is a good difference :).

4. Coldcuts for breakfast.  I see them at the breakfast buffets and I just can't do it yet. #imisscrispybacon

5. No gallons of milk.  We buy our milk in small 1 liter glass bottled every couple days.  Its very fresh and doesn't last as long so its sold in smaller quantities.  This necessitates a grocery trip every couple days.  Getting used to that too...

6. Sparkling mineral water.  Its the thing here!!  Medium gas, regular gas, or without gas.  At first I didn't really like it but now I love it!  It's so refreshing - like having an ice cold coke without the sugar and stickiness.  Caleb doesn't like it at all - he makes sure his water is "normal water" not the water with bubbles. 

7. The grocery store...a few differences here!  No baggers and no bags - makes the checking out process a little frantic with two kids.  How fast can I get all this into my fabric bags while keeping the boys safe and then also paying before the next person starts checking out.  Second, the water section is humongous, and the milk section tiny.  And eggs don't go in the fridge and are very very fresh - often the ones I buy still have chicken feathers on them lol. 

That's the main ones!  I've loved almost all the restaurant food we've come to.  Salads are great, schnitzels are yummy, and always paired with a refreshing mineral water!

Its been a pretty normal week so far.  I finally got all the boxes unpacked and now have 2 boxes of stuff that we just didn't need to bring or didn't mean to bring.  I brought just a handful of decorative items and I'm starting to put those out.  Now just down to some reorganization of some of the cabinets and we'll be set for a while until they move us again! 

This weekend, we're going to Belgium!  Brussels and Bruges each for a day.  We're riding the train because its preferable to not have a car there.  Look for pictures!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Rothenburg ob de Tauber

This past weekend, we took our first overnight trip to Rothenburg ob de Tauber. 
It was a beautiful preserved old city with cobblestone streets, outdoor cafes, and a watchman's wall all the way around the city that you could walk.
We stayed in an adorable little old place called the Romantik Hotel.
Ben has been wearing Timothy in the Ergo carrier a lot on our little trips.  I'm glad they're getting a little bonding time since the sweet boy doesn't take bottles and therefore he and I are rarely separated.  
It gives me some time to walk around with just Caleb which I enjoy.

Walking on the wall - lots of stairs climbed that day. 
32 floors worth to be exact (according to FitBit).
Here, Caleb is pretending to be a soldier looking for the enemies!

We went to the Criminal Museum which was really gruesome and creepy.  Most of it went way over Caleb's head thank goodness but it was all about torture and punishment in the past of the city.
Not my favorite to say the least but maybe more of a guy thing?!

In the afternoon, Caleb, Timothy and I went back to the room to take a nap and Ben did some more exploring. 
This was glorious. 
It was wonderful to be stuck in the room with two sleeping boys having the really rough choice of taking a nap myself or reading. 
I did both and it was fabulous.

In the evening, starting at 8, there was a Watchman's tour in English. 
He had a great old timey accent and a sense of humor. 
He took us (and about 100 other Americans) around the city giving history and other interesting details. 
Towards the end as you can imagine, Caleb was uninterested so we stayed toward the back so he could walk around.  I met another mom there doing the same thing who actually is a mutual friend of one of the 3 friends I have here! 
God is so good to give me that encouragement and another potential friend. 


It was a gorgeous city that I would recommend to anyone!  This weekend, we are staying in Frankfurt and just being normal people.  Going to the mall for new work pants for Ben and maybe some Birkenstocks for me.  Eating in and finding some local fun maybe at a festival or the Palmengarten.  

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Burg Eltz: Our First Castle!

This past weekend, we went to our first castle, Burg Eltz! 
We were all excited, Caleb especially. 
Funny because he's never been to a castle but just the thought of it was cause for excitement.
We had to hike a little under a mile up the hill to the castle.  It was a beautiful hike. 
Caleb is doing great just walking and keeping up with us {most of the time}.  In Germany, you see very few double strollers, unless you have twins. 
There's just really not space - on trains, buses, sidewalks, stores, etc.  So it's expected that the older kid just walks.  We got a single stroller with all-terrain wheels and its been working just fine. 

Look at that smile!  Also #batmanshirtforlife.

Inside the castle

We started in on a tour and then it was just too stressful to keep both boys quiet so Ben went through and I stayed and walked around and up and down with the boys. 
According to my fitbit, I walked 22 floors that day. 
It was a fun experience and we had lunch at the castle afterwards. 
Caleb has discovered Apfel Schorle which is a drink here that's half sparkling mineral water and half apple juice. 
It's become our special "big brother treat" to encourage good behavior or just to treat him. 

Afterwards we walked down and played in the river and skipped rocks.
On the way back up to the castle, Caleb walked in the bushes and got stung.  And he was tired and had only a short car nap.  Not a good combination.
I brushed the same one a little bit and it literally feels like a bee sting.  Just a few days before he had been stung by a wasp so it was a bad flashback and he was histerical! 
Ben carried him up the stairs to the castle screaming. It was quite the scene. 
 While we were checking out his legs (looked like small bites all over his calf), a nice English speaking family stopped and gave us some lotion. 
She saw my Aggie ring and turns out they are Aggies who live in Fredericksburg!  Ha!  Such a gift from God to give us some English speaking people to encourage us. 

A stop on the way back