About a week before we flew back to California for our Thanksgiving visit, I asked folks to give me suggestions of songs to make a California playlist. To say thanks for all the great suggestions, here are screen shots from my final playlist, which includes oldies, classic rock, acoustic covers, some punk, a little disco, some pop rap, pretty much a little bit of lots of types of sounds.
Anyone who lives in San Francisco knows that the city thrives on the various summer festivals, which all are very unique in their focus, but all have some commons elements, most notably being that they are a great way to spend an afternoon seeing new sights and sounds, eating some fair-style food (although, admittedly far more diverse and high quality than at an actual fair), and possibly buying something from a local vendor. The summer festivals are one of the many things I loved about being in SF, so when we got to Munich, I tried my best to research what festivals they hold here. The results I found online were pretty slim, but having lived here through one summer, we definitely stumbled upon more than a few festivals. Above are scenes from one that I literally ran into when we were showing some friends' parents around.
This is one that we ran into when I went to get money from our nearby bank. It had mini models of various Munich landmarks, which amused us, because we recognize and have been to those sights.
When out for a run, we saw this festival, which we went back to and explored a bit more after a shower. Turns out it was the Isar Island Festival (the Isar being the river that flows through Munich). It had some of the hallmarks that I have grown to recognize at the smallest and biggest Munich festivals, on up to Oktoberfest, including rides for kids of all sizes. On the left above is a giant marble maze, which was unique to this festival.
Also common to all Munich festivals, food carts which usually have variations of sausage, pommes frites, and occasionally a potato pizza like dish. Plus, all have an improvised beer garden as pictured on the bottom. In this case, the beer garden was next to a pretty massive statue. Also, the Munich festivals tend to pop up in any available open space, which often means they are right by a church. It's not every day that you can buy french fries in front of church.
This festival did have some unique experiences for slightly older kids, including that you could zip line over the Isar River (bottom right photo) and you could climb to the almost top of a fully extended fire truck ladder. The kid we watched do the climb couldn't have been more than seven years old, so we, like the rest of the crowd, paused to watch and cheer when he got to the top.
Over the summer, it took us a bit to get used to the weather, because coming from California, summer just means hot, dry weather, and it's wonderful. The photo above is from one of the nicer days in Munich over the summer. It took us a bit to get used to Munich summer weather, because it was nothing like we are accustomed to, but apparently is like the Midwest weather. Generally, it seemed like mornings were warm and no clouds, often pretty dry, and then clouds would start to roll in mid-afternoon. Usually, in the course of an hour, it went from fairly ok, warm, just a bit humid, to big, thick clouds, super humid, and massive rain drops, sometimes even hail. Hail in California is so rare that people usually go outside to touch it, but not in Munich.
Technically, the two photos above aren't from official summer festivals, but they are sights we saw somewhat frequently around town. The Hotel California VW van parked near one of the subway stops Greg used to take to work, and it made me smile every time I saw it. The beer truck is parked in front of our apartment building. Before anyone starts getting confused, no, we don't drink that much beer that we get it delivered via truck, but we do have a sort of frat house next to us, and during the warmer parts of the school year, once a week, they get a beer delivery. I call them a sort of frat house, because I'm not sure that they are actually associated with any of the Munich universities, and they are silent with no big events of any sort, so completely unlike any US frat. I found out they were a frat when I looked up their building logo online; they are that quiet. But the beer truck also always makes me smile when I see it.
One of the few festivals that you do read about in Munich is Auer Dult (roughly translates to meadow on the Au river), which happens for ten days three times a year, and is described as a mix of a flea market and a festival. I visited the fall one a couple days ago, and found it had many of the usual festival trends, including improvised beer garden, rides for kids, and food boths, including the top left photo showing a similar pastry to the one I absolutely loved in Prague and that I think may be one of my favorite treats in all of Europe. So excited to taste them again!
Also, the Dult (as it's called) takes place in front of a church, so this time, you could buy "Western" food, or any number of flea market items right in front of the church. Again, that's not always the case, but it makes for a funny photo or two.
Since Auer Dult features stuff for sale, I saw lots of demonstrations of things like vegetable slicers, cleaning products, storage containers, all things that seemed like an infomercial, except they were happening in real life and were in German. As you may have noticed in the photos from Auer Dult (framed in orange), fall has definitely set in here in Munich. Leaves are changing colors; people are bundling up in jackets and scarves; the person I went to Auer Dult with bought herself another pair of gloves. Fall has hit.
And it's only going to get worse. This was the weather forecast for this weekend. Yes, that's snow predicted for four days in a row. Snow. In October. In California, October is warm and you often don't even have to put a jacket on when you go out trick-or-treating. Here, I spent an entire day trying to wrap my brain around that the forecast high would be 36. I'm sorry, but for October, 36 is not a high! In my mind, it's a freakishly cold record-breaking low. Toto, we're not in California anymore.
Berlin clearly has loads of history, ranging from some of the best to the worst of humanity. It's a city that is trying to move forward, while honoring the past. To that end, it would have been way too much for me to put it all in one blog post, so I'm dividing the main sights of Berlin into two posts: this one that is generally cheery, and another accesible here featuring loads of info from WW2 through 1989. The posts should be taken in tandem, as they are two very related and important sides of modern-day Berlin.
As for this post, the photo above is as follows: top left: Greg with one of the tourist bears that are all painted differently and scattered across Berlin. Apparently the bear is the animal for the region. The top right is the German Parliament building (Bundestag) which we toured and that will be featured in a separate post. The bottom is the Brandenburg Gate which was built originally in the late 1700's as part of the wall surrounding the city center, and featured on one of the Euro coins.
In the US, a popular daytime tv game show is called "The Price is Right," in which competitors play various games to guess the prices of every day items. If they were to take US folks and try to play that game to guess the prices of the imported "American" food items in Germany, I seriously bet no one would ever win. For fun, get out a pen and paper, and write down how much you think some of the following items should cost. Keep in mind, these are in Euro's, so you have to round down a bit, because with the conversion, the Euro price is roughly 20% cheaper than the US dollar price. Seriously. I'll wait for you. Pen? Paper? Ready?
Well, if you're not going to actually get out a pen and paper, at least pretend to play along and don't just automatically scroll down. Ok, here we go.
Hunt's Barbecue Sauce
Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate
Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookie mix
Strawberry Pop Tarts
Guesses ready? How much do they generally cost? Some less than a dollar? Some maybe a couple dollars, but you stock up when they are on sale?
We had so much fun visiting with Hadley in London that we decided to meet up again, this time for a long weekend starting at Disneyland Paris. This photo, yeah, it was taken by Hadley bravely giving her phone to a six-year old to take our photo. Things to note: the six year old knew how to use the iPhone to take a photo (she was six, and plenty of adults would have no clue) and she composed the photo very well!
While my last post was titled based on the song by Phantom Planet about California, I sadly don't know of any songs written about San Diego. Hmmm.... Quick google search pulls up some of the following, but either they are a bit of a stretch or I've never heard of them: Top Gun theme song, Bruce Springsteen's "Balboa Park", Eric Clapton's "The Road to Escondido", and Dean Martin's "Thirty More Miles to San Diego."
I recently went back to the US for a whirlwind ten day visit. It was already planned to be a tight schedule with me flying home to San Francisco on a Monday (which ended up being an even longer flight due to stopping in Iceland for a medical emergency), trying to quickly beat jet lag so I could fly to San Diego on Thursday with my mom for a long weekend of wedding planning with my sister and her fiancé, fly back to Oakland the next Monday, and fly back to Munich on Thursday. Turns out my dad was in the hospital for essentially the first half of my trip home, so that made scheduling even tighter and meant I didn't really have any extra time to see many friends; I hope you all forgive me!