Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New year from Amsterdam!

Hi, I made it to Amsterdam okay and enjoyed celebrating the New Year here.  It was a long ride up, but I crocheted on the scarf I am trying to make.  Being down on Dam square was interesting, there were about 70,000 people there and a bunch of people random and recklessly setting off fireworks.  I expected a big countdown, but alas, it wasn't that organized.  They've actually been setting off fireworks all over, all night.
Tomorrow after a visit to the Delft company we are going to the North Shore.  I've gotten about a half dozen people saying they will do the dip tomorrow.. Guess we will see.  Okay, it's almost 2am here, so I'm going to sign off and say good night.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

What I get to look forward to in less than 24 hours!

New Year's Eve 2010 in Amsterdam
Widely known for a rowdy scene on New Year's Eve, Amsterdam's approach to the once-a-year blowout is fittingly "live and let live."

Out with the 'Oud':
New Year's Eve in Amsterdam is called Oudjaarsdag or Oudjaarsavond -- "Old Year's Day" and "Old Year's Evening," respectively. You might also see and hear December 31 referred to as Oud en Nieuw, or "Old and New."

Whatever you call it, if you're celebrating the end of a year (and welcoming a new one) in Amsterdam, you're in for a memorable party. So practice saying gelukkig nieuwjaar ("prosperous new year") and find the right revelry for you.

Citywide Free-for-All and Fireworks:

So where's the biggest New Year's Eve party in Amsterdam? The city streets, of course! The streets and squares of central Amsterdam are filled with throngs of people (mostly tourists) -- especially at Dam Square, Rembrandtplein, Nieuwmarkt and Leidseplein. Try the fun, funky Jordaan neighborhood and the caf├ęs of the Western Canal Ring for a more local feel. It seems almost everyone has a bottle of Champagne in tow -- and if they don't, they're lighting fireworks.
Ask someone who's been to Amsterdam for New Year's Eve what they remember most about the experience and they'll likely say, "Fireworks...everywhere!" As soon as it's dark, kids (and kids at heart) start shooting, throwing and lighting all sorts of crackers, bangers and sparklers. And while it's all in the name of fun, in the more crowded touristy areas, it can be downright dangerous. So, be warned and take cover -- or take part!
Locations of organized fireworks displays vary from year to year, but usually take place at Dam Square, Nieuwmarkt and/or Rembrandtplein. These squares and the streets around them are packed. Nieuwmarkt is especially wild, as this is the heart of the Chinese community in Amsterdam and the fireworks are plentiful.

If you prefer to watch the fireworks from a calmer locale, the bridges throughout the city are perfect vantage points -- especially the ones over the Amstel River like the Magere Brug, or "skinny bridge."
Bars, Clubs, Music and Parties:
If you like your celebrations a little more organized, there are always plenty of parties to choose from at Amsterdam clubs, bars and music venues.

SOOOOOO... I think I'll have fun (if I get to bed tonight so I can manage to stay UP tomorrow night!).

Work went fine today... quiet... I did more online training stuff and then tonight I went out to dinner with David & Carol, Ed & Cami and their three kids (McKenzie's going to take care of the dogs while I'm gone). It was good, we went to a Chinese/Thai restaurant.

Okay... I've got to sign off. I've been messing with Itunes for a couple hours (spent WAY too much time on it), making sure I've got plenty of music to listen to on the road trip to Amsterdam and back.

I most likely WON'T be posting for the next couple nights... so don't worry, okay? And I'm taking two camera's (with extra memory) to take LOTS of pictures, which I'll post Sunday night or Monday night (depending on how late I get back Sunday night).

Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

P.S. yes... I'm taking my swimsuit... not sure if I'll be using it, but at least I'll have it! *smiles*

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Two more days... til a New Year!

New Years Dive at Scheveningen
So... work was fairly quiet, I met with two couples today, none scheduled for tomorrow because the clinic is technically closed, but we will be there.

Tonight I've been surfing the web, learning about Amsterdam. On Saturday (January 1st) we are going to the sea village of Scheveningen. I found out tonight (via the web) that they celebrate the New Year with a Polar Bear dip, in fact, they expect about 10,000 people to participate. Are you thinking what I'm thinking???? Yea... I'm wondering if I should join the "North Sea" Polar Bear club. (is it open to anyone? Do you get a patch and/or a certificate like I did in Barrow back in November 1993?). At this point, I'm planning to go prepared and will "wing it" and see how things go. I did email one of my co-workers at another clinic to see if she had thought about it (my guess is that she hadn't), but she didn't respond, so I'm not sure if she was working today or not. No worries... I'll let you know when I get back! *smiles*

Okay... not much else to write about.

Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The plan for Amsterdam...

So... Friday I leave at 6:30am, then stop by Heidelberg, Kaiserslautern & Wiesbaden to pick up other people (nice thing is that I'll have first dibs on seating!). The trip takes us up by Venlo, and Eindhoven on our way to Leiden with a brunch stop in Germany. Mid-afternoon arrival/check-in at the hotel in Leiden, birthplace of Rembrandt and the home of Holland's oldest university (1575). We get into Amsterdam just as the celebrations begin (not sure when that is supposed to be) and then it sounds like we are on our own to celebrat the New Year. Later we have the choice of either riding the bus back to the hotel or we can take a train back to Leiden later in the morning (the train departs every hour from the Central station... I will be taking the bus back... at least that's MY plan). Saturday we get to sleep in, have a late breakfast (included), then we go to one of the two remaining Delft Porcelain Makers (Factories). Then we go up to the North Sea Resort of Schevengingen where we can dip in the cold North Sea and pick up some shells??? (Hmmm... maybe I should take my swimsuit and see if there is a Polar bear club for the North Sea???). It sounds like we spend some time up there in taht area and then later we go to a wooden shoe factory followed by a city tour of Amsterdam and top off the day with a dinner at an Indonesian Rijstable (restaurant). After dinner it's back to the hotel.
On Sunday after breakfast (and checking out of the hotel) we'll have the opportunity to take the canal boat cruises along some of Amsterdam's canals, then there is some free time for exploring or we can visit the Ann Frank House. There is an early afternoon departure back to Germany, with a late evening arrival back here. Sounds like a busy weekend. Temperatures are supposed to be in the 30's most of the time.

Other than that... work went okay today, I only saw one couple today, tomorrow I have two couples coming in. After work I went and got my nails done and by the time they got done, the Post Office was closed. So... I'm still waiting for packages, including my Christmas cards. Guess I'll try to go over at lunchtime tomorrow to check the mail.

Okay... I'm going to sign off... it's almost bed time!

Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Monday, December 27, 2010

Another Monday in Germany...

I'm sure I've probably posted it before, but this is the house I'll be moving into in less than a month! Whooohooo! The landlord sent me the contract today and I'll drop it off at the housing office tomorrow and then we'll sit down with the landlord (probably by phone) and go over the contract next Tuesday, the 4th. I'm excited about moving in, although I checked today and my household goods don't *have* to be delivered until Valentine's Day (hopefully it will show up before then). I can borrow some furniture until mine arrives, if I need to.

I just paid for insurance on my car, effective at midnight tonight, so now my car can arrive tomorrow! (they don't *have* to deliver my car until January 20th! but I'm hoping to get it earlier).

Work was quiet today, I just did more online training. I'm enjoying the quiet before the storm.

I *am* going to go to Amsterdam to celebrate New Year's eve this coming weekend. How cool is that? And yes, I'll take LOTS of pictures. I leave here via tour bus on Friday morning at 6:30am, then they stop a couple other places to pick people up and then we'll be there in time to check into our hotel and go out and "celebrate." There will be more sightseeing over the weekend and I'll be back on Sunday evening. The kids next door (here in the hotel) are going to watch the dogs for me again (they watched them when I went on the Volksmarch).

Okay... signing off.

Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Day After Christmas...

the sun is setting behind the trees...

Earlier in the day...
The sun reflecting off the snow...

Snow shadow... (I'm wearing a long coat...)
So... today has been a quiet day, another relaxing day. Didn't do much... gave the dogs a bath, took them out a couple times, wandered over to the local store for a little bit, talked to neighbors here at the hotel that just got back from their ski vacation to Garmish... and tonight I've just been playing with the pups and watching some TV and doing a little crocheting (I'm trying to make a scarf).
Okay... time to sign off... tomorrow is back to the [slow] grind.
Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Frohe Weihnachten from Germany!

My little bit of Christmas here in my hotel room...
See all that snow on the bench (especially the part you sit on)? That's how much snow we got since yesterday morning! Needless to say, we were breaking trail when I took the dogs out for their walks! Peanut was in the lead, then me, then Bruno trying to walk in my footsteps! LOL!

Today has been about relaxing, didn't do anything other than take the dogs out various times today and then doing laundry tonight. I did go over to David & Carol's room for dinner. Carol made home-made egg noodles and a very thick soup - creamy chicken. It was really good (they have more of a kitchen than I do). Then we played that one card game again "Phase 10" (it's almost like a UNO deck).
Well, I'm going to sign off and try to make a couple more Christmas calls before I go to bed.
Auf Wiedersehen and I hope you have a MERRY Christmas!
- Kris

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve!

It was very snowy today!
Bruno was up to his belly in most areas as we walked today...

Peanut... the "lady" of the day... amazingly seems to like the snow (she wants to walk far more than Bruno!)

Merry Christmas from the three of us! *smiles* (one of the hotel workers saw us come in and decided it would make a nice Christmas photo... so we sat by the fire & she took our picture).
Not much going on today. I lazed around until about 1pm (after the pups got me up about 7am to go out for a walk!) Then I took a long, soaking bath with lavendar bath scents, and then got up and went over to the Post Office. I was disappointed to find out that the Christmas cards my daughter mailed 2 weeks ago by priority mail, STILL did not make it. I did get a Christmas card (forwarded) from an old family friend, so tonight I called to talk to her and let her know I am in Germany (where I first met her 30 years ago!). It was good to talk with her and I talked to her son Larry (his sister Sherry used to babysit for us when our kids were babies).
I did go over and wander around the store for awhile. I bought two travel books, one on Germany and one for Europe. I'm looking forward to reading through them and getting travel ideas.

It's been snowing consistently all day. I think we got about 5" of snow today. Times like this, I'm glad I can just walk where I need to go. (My car isn't here yet... no car for Christmas). I've been listening to Christmas music on the German radio station, sometimes they sing a familiar song in German (i.e. Oh Tannenbaum, or "I'm dreaming of a White Christmas.") and sometimes they play English songs (American songs). I've enjoyed it.

Tonight I went to the Candlelight Christmas Eve service, it was nice. We sang something like 11 Christmas hymns. Many families were involved in the program, which made it even nicer.
Okay... signing off.

Frohe Weihnachten!

- Kris

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cute treats...

Someone at work brought these little chocolate mice into work. The back side is a chocolate-dipped cherry, then they put slices of almonds for the ears and connected them with a kiss. How cute is that?
SO!!! The good news today is that the landlord of the Steinenbronn house called today and has agreed to rent his house to me!!! YAY! I will need to get with him next week to deal with the contract and then I should be able to move in January 15th. I'm so happy. It's the nicest of all the houses I looked at. Its probably a little bigger than I need, but at least it isn't too small. I'll have plenty room for guests. And I didn't go look at that other house that was about 30 minutes from work (didn't need to).
Today was a quiet day... I just did online training all day, but I got a lot done. I think I just have 1-2 more courses to do.
No car for Christmas (darn)... and I still haven't gotten the Christmas cards I ordered yet. So, they *won't* be postmarked by Christmas. Oh well. I think people will understand.
Tonight I went to dinner with David & Carol, it was good to get out.
Okay, signing off...
Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

This was cool... this ship on the top of a house. This was in Esslingen...
When we went to Esslingen, we went through this old clock tower. Neat, huh!
So... today I had one couple come in for an appointment (one I had seen last week). This afternoon I went to look at an apartment. It was in a good location, the landlord is nice (and speaks English pretty well), it has a nice view, a fairly large livingroom and dining area, BUT... the three bedrooms are as small as my spare bedroom was in Hawaii. I think the largest is about 12 X 14, but none have closets (which is typical here in Germany). My dressers and my bed wouldn't fit in the master bedroom together. I wondered if I used the two smaller bedrooms downstairs, and used one as a dressing room (with dressers and wardrobes), then I could make the upstairs bedroom as a guest room, but then I wouldn't have a "computer" room and it would almost feel like the same situation I was in at the apartment in Hawaii (where I didn't really have much room for guests, because the spare bedroom had all my books and bookcases and my computer desk and stuff). One thing about the place I looked at today, it was only about 15 minutes to the nearest train station and there were three trains that go by there to the airport and only took 17 minutes to get to the airport.

Tomorrow I look at another place, it's about 20 miles from where I work, but it looks nice in the pictures. I guess I just wish the guy that had that first place I looked at would call and say he would rent that place to me. Its not close to transportation routes, but it is the nicest I've looked at.
Okay... I'm going to sign off for tonight.
Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Old Church in Esslingen

Wow... they could probaby make a killing by letting people bungee jump from that walkway! *ha ha*
This is the inside of that old majestic church.... (looking towards the front)

Looking towards the back of the church, the pipe organ is up above... they were playing it when we (David, Carol & I) were there.
So... met with a couple this morning, then this afternoon I went to look at a place to live, but apparently the landlord forgot to notify the tenant that we (housing office staff and I) were coming out to look at it today, so she wouldn't let us in (and I don't blame her... she has kids and probably hadn't picked up around the house). It was a "row" house, there were 4 homes in the complex (or whatever you call it). I don't think I'd be happy there. It looked like there were a lot of kids around, and I'd rather find a place that is more quiet. Sure wish I'd hear from the guy who is renting that first place I looked at (in Steinenbronn)... so far that's been the best place.

Tomorrow I'm supposed to look at another place, but there may be issues with it (for some reason it was marked not to show it to people, but the housing office person didn't notice it until after we called and set up the appointment. So she called the landlord back and he didn't know why it was taken off the list, so... I'm hoping when I get there tomorrow, I'll be able to go look at it). What I like about it is that it is only 15 minutes from the train. Its near the University and seems like a nice neighborhood (from Google). Thursday I'm supposed to look at another place that looks nice, but it's about 25 minutes away from where I work.
I *did* find out that my car *did* make it to Germany, but there's no guarantee about when they can get it delivered down here. And I found out my snow tires that I ordered are in, but even if I get my car this week, they can't put the snow tires on until January 14th. Ugh!
Oh! And I got a Christmas present in the mail today from my oldest daughter... so now I have a present under my tree! YEA!
Other than that... my spare time today was spent doing online training (will it ever end?).

Tomorrow I have a meeting first thing in the morning and then I have a couple coming in... then at 11am I go to look at the one house (in Vaihingen, not too far from where the train stops). Keep your fingers crossed... and/or say a prayer for me.
Okay... time to take the dogs out for their night time walk and then its bedtime.
Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Monday, December 20, 2010

Snowy day...

So... today has been a snowy and rainy day. I think we got about 5" of snow today, but then it rained off and on. Some of my co-workers couldn't even make it into work (because they live in a hilly area). They ended up letting us all go about 1:30pm. I walked over to the Post Office, but I guess they aren't getting any mail today because of the weather. I managed to slip and fall on the snow & ice (we also had black ice today), but fortunately it was an easy fall, no bruises or hurts (I went down on one palm).
I came home and played with my pups, then went and talked with Carol. I was worried about David because he works about 20 miles away and I knew some of the roads were closed. He came home before I left their room. They invited me over for dinner and to play cards (or Yahtzee... but we ended up playing a card game named "Phases" or something like that). It was fun. I took the dogs with me... they get along with Tarabella (their dog) pretty well, once in awhile Bruno wants to be protective of me and growl, but he gets over it.
Okay... I'm watching "Survivor" (from Sunday night in the mainland), it's the finale... so I'll sign off.
Auf Wiedersehen,
- Kris

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Building in Esslingen... Rathaus?

I think this building is one of the "Rathaus" ... (City Hall's). In any case, it's a beautiful building in Esslingen.
Today has been a fairly quiet day. I stayed up way too late, then took it easy today. This afternoon I went to the grocery store (David & Carol were going and asked if I wanted to go along, it was perfect timing!). Tonight we went to dinner (David, Carol, David Jr and I) with several other families from the hotel here. We went to the Hendl House, and as before, it was delicious. I had garlic chicken with fries.
Okay, its already after 10pm and I need to straighten up and get ready for tomorrow yet, so I'll sign off.
Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Esslingen Christmas market

Just a quick note since its now after midnight here... I went with David & Carol to see the home they will be moving into the 1st of Febrary and then we went over to Esslingen (about 30 miles away, but it seems farther) for the Christmas market there. That should be our last Christmas market. It was really neat as Esslingen is known for their midieval atmosphere at their market. I think we wandered around for about 3 hours. Other than being cold, it was beautiful. I posted most of my pictures on my facebook account. I'll post more from Esslingen over this coming week.

We got back to our hotel, just in time for the fire alarms to go out (and man, are they loud!). I was SO thankful I was here as the dogs were terrified. Fortunately I still had all my winter gear on, so I just had to grab the dogs and their coats (which I was dragging down the hallway as I was trying to carry out my two trembling dogs). We headed downstairs to the front of the building. One of the kids next door offered to hold one of my dogs (they took care of the dogs while I went on my volksmarch last weekend), so she (McKenzie) held Bruno for me. After standing outside for about 15 minutes, we decided to come into the breezeway (???), between the main entrance and the entrance to the lobby. The fire department got here about 25 minutes after the alarms started going off. Thank goodness it wasn't a real fire! Someone said that one of their supply rooms got too hot and set off the alarm.

Then, David, Carol & I went to a "Real (RE-AL) store, which is the German version of Walmart, I guess. It was pretty big. We bought a few things there. Then stopped by our favorite little restaurant that isn't too far from where we live. About a half hour after we got back... the fire alarm went off again! (I was in the laundry room, when I got back to the room, the dogs were hiding in their kennel! Good doggies!). So... this time I took the time to put their coats on and get my winter gear, and just went to the landing of the 2nd floor (again, in that space between the inside door and outside door) and waited there. They quickly announced that it was a false alarm and that the fire department would be here in about 20 minutes. BUT... the alarms were still going off and I didn't want to come back into the building until the alarm was turned off because it's too hard on the dogs' ears. The kids next door were there with me on the landing. They are such awesome kids. I had given McKenzie an extra key to my room in case the fire alarm went off while we were at the store... thankfully it didn't go off until I was back.

My laundry is done, but I haven't put it away yet. Oh yea, at the Re-al store, I bought some yarn, guess I'll try to see if I can remember how to crochet a scarf! *smiles*

Okay... signing off.

Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Friday, December 17, 2010

Another snowy day...

Today was a very snowy day, at least the 1st half. I still had to go in at 7:30. There's been some disagreement about what a "2 hour delay" means... does that mean the clinics open 2 hours later so folks can wait to give the snow plows a chance to clear the roads and for it be lighter, therefore safer to drive? Or does it mean that you try to get there at 7:30am and take your time on the road getting in, so you are safe? I guess in the past it has been that the clinic opened 2 hours later, now with the new boss of the head clinic, he says it means we should try to get there at 7:30 (and if we live near work, (like I can walk to work) then we are expected to be there at 7:30.

Today was a quiet day. I spent the majority of my time doing online training (I have a *lot* to do). We had to go over to the main clinic for a meeting this afternoon... which was absolutely senseless, given the condition of the roads. Obviously the head boss cares more about being heard than about employee's safety! Fortunately we made it back and forth okay (we followed a plow over most of the way), and then as my co-worker was backing up, he bumped into a car behind us (he didn't get out to check on the condition of the car, but another co-worker said it was okay). He bumped it because he couldn't see very well behind him (again, due to the snow).

Tonight I went to dinner at the "Brau" house with David & Carol. Our dinner was GREAT! A co-worker had recommended the place when I first arrived, this was the first time we had been there (any of us). I'd highly recommend it. *smiles*

Tomorrow morning we are going to drive to Esslingen to check out their Christmas market. It'll be nice, because we'll have more time to visit the town and the market. In Tubingen we got there in the evening and it was closing within a hour. When we went to Strausberg, we were rushed because we were heading to the Volksmarch. Hopefully I will remember to take my camera.

Okay... time to sign off.

Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's beginning to feel like Christmas...

I decorated my desk area with Christmas decorations...
Lights on the windows...

A closer view of the desk area... *smiles*
So... work-wise, it was a quiet day... so I spent it doing training. I *did* open a German bank account today, I'll need that to pay my local rent and utility bills. I also closed out my stateside cell phone (luckily with no penalties!). So, in some way it has been a productive day.
Darn... my Christmas lights just burned out (on the window). Guess they got too cold! LOL! (I brought them from Hawaii). Oh well... I tried. I guess it might be that they should be used on American current not the German current.
Okay... signing off... I've spent all night trying to decorate and now its almost 10:30pm.
Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow...

Heavy snow is predicted for tonight and tomorrow. Good thing I got my new boots today! I've got a pair of snow boots while I was in Atlanta, but decided I needed another pair that I could wear during the snow AND the rain and these seemed to fit the bill. One of our docs has a pair (that's where I first noticed them).

Here's a close up view of the pattern. It's more blue than green, although this photo makes them look more green.
Today at work went well. I met with two couples. I had met with the wife of one of the couples last week. That's an "interesting" couple. Or shall I say "challenging." The other is a young couple that just needs to get on the right track early in their marriage. I still can't get on the computer to enter my notes (but I *can* get on the computer). I'm hoping I can enter my notes by Friday.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we get a snow day tomorrow. I'd *love* a day to just kick back and relax with my dogs. I guess we may very well be told to come in 2 hours late and I should be grateful if we get that.
Okay, I'm going to sign off. I hope you are all having a wonderful Holiday season!
Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Not much about Tuesday...

Isn't this little boy cute? He was on the volksmarch with his parents this past weekend.

Wow... I'm watching "The Secret Life of Bees." For some reason I've never seen it before. It's good!

Not much to write about today. Work consisted of doing online training. It *is* nice to get off at 4:30 and be home before 5pm. It's weird to leave work at quitting time each day.

Peanut's paw *was* looking better, until she jumped off the bed tonight and made it break open. So, I put some antibiotics on it and put another band-aid on it (I haven't put a bandaid on it for a few days so that it could heal).

Okay... signing off for another day...

Auf Wiedersehen,
- Kris

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's Monday here...

This is either the Ill or the Rhine River (I think) that runs through Stuttgart.

So... work went okay today, not much to do. I am doing online training and one of them that I am doing right now is a VERY long one. I've been at it for 2 work days. It's about Chemical and Biological warfare and goes into a LOT more detail than I would ever need to know (or that I'll remember).

I did go over to housing today and they were able to contact that landlord about the house in Steinenbronn, he said he's got three families that are interested in it and that he would make a decision by Thursday. SO... keep your fingers crossed for me. I'm scheduled to look at another place on either Friday or Saturday. It's about the same distance from work as the other place (I think).

Okay... not much else to write about. Except... oh yea... that cruise ship that had problems on the cruise from Barcelona to Egypt and back? I was originally scheduled to be on it the 23rd of November (so I would have been back and this is the next cruise after it). Glad I wasn't on this cruise!

Other than that, I spent most of the night messing with my Ipod music. I didn't have any Christmas music on my I Nano, so I got that done. (It was complicated... too complicated to explain).

Time to sign off...

Auf Wiedersehen...
- Kris

P.S. My boss will be back from her trip to London tomorrow.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lazy Sunday

This is the War Memorial in Strasbourg, France

Not a whole lot going on today. My feet & legs are sore from walking yesterday, but at least I didn't seem to get any blisters from the Volksmarch yesterday. I've been dozing off and on all day, we didn't do the castle thing (because it is all uphill to get up to it), but I did go to dinner with David & Carol, we went to a restaurant that we have eaten at before. I had lasagna again and this time I finished it all off. We had two other couples/families from the hotel join us.

Okay... I'm going to sign off.

Auf Wiedersehen,


Saturday, December 11, 2010


Some of the Germany countryside along the way...
The Strasbourg Christmas market was VERY crowded!

Off to start my first Volksmarch since arriving in Germany... first one is in Erstein, France.

With St. Nick out in the middle of the forest (I'm drinking some Hot Chocolate).

So... I made it to France today! We (Dave, Carol & David Jr) met the bus about noon, it was packed to the hilt! I guess because it was the holidays, they decided to go all out... free champagne, free sandwiches, chips & water... and then just about all the beer you wanted to buy. They had a LOT of Champagne on board... wow! And people made goodies and brought them to share with everyone. It was reminiscent of the "booze cruises." I didn't drink, I don't care for beer OR champagne. I was able to get some diet coke and was happy enough with that. I sat near the back and boy, did we have a rambunctious bunch behind me! At least one of them missed his calling... he and at least one other should have been stand-up comedians, they had us laughing most of the way down and back. We got to Strasbourg about a half hour late, and then had to walk almost a mile to get to where the Christmas market was! Whew! And then we only got to spend about 45 minutes there. Part of that time for me was spent waiting to use a restroom. And then I went to buy a pretzel and could not find my Euros! YIKES! I had them on the bus, I knew that... but wasn't sure if somehow I had lost them on the bus, or if I had lost them in my haste to use the tiny bathroom when I got to the Christmas market. SO... I spent another 10 minutes or so roaming around trying to find an ATM machine I could use to buy some more Euros. (As it turned out... the money had fallen down between my seat on the bus and the window... whew!). I didn't buy much at the Christmas market, partly because of the time. I kept looking for a gluvine (hot wine) mug, but everyone was using plastic cups. After we met up to walk back, one of the women had one and so I asked where she got it from and ran over and got one. I've got a nice collection of Christmas mugs now! I also bought a neck warmer/hat thing that can be worn in several ways. I have one similar and really like it. The one I bought today was black.

Then it was a hasty trip back to the bus, at least I wasn't the last one... there were about six or so that were later getting back. We left there about 20 minutes later than we had planned. Bob, one of the host (very experienced Volksmarchers) said something about heading north to Erstein... and I told him I thought it was about 20 miles southwest of Strasbourg (I had looked at an online map yesterday). As it turned out... the bus driver headed for Entsvine (or something like that)... in the wrong direction... and had to stop and get the correct directions. SO... we got to the Volksmarch about an hour later than I think we had planned. But, we all got through the volksmarch in enough time. I did the 10K (6 miles). My toes were a little sore. BUT... thankfully it wasn't snowing and it wasn't too cold... and I had brought my tennis shoes along, so I just wore those. The town had decorated for Christmas and it was neat wandering through the forest with torches lit... and at different spots along the way they had different things... Saint Nick, some hunter horn blowers (they were dressed like hunters, and were blowing a french horn type thing), kids and adults putting on short little plays (in about 4 areas) and then they had music at a couple of the control points. Which reminds me... it *was* a little weird crossing the border without any stops. I *was* bummed that they didn't have any memorabilia for the volksmarch (I remember getting medals, steins, plaques... this one there wasn't anything! It would have been neat (and well deserved) to get a St Nick medal! (or cup, or stein). Oh well. I got some good pictures and I had fun.

Anyway... we got back to our car about 11:15pm, now it's 1:20am and I'm tired. I will try to upload just a couple pictures tonight (check my facebook for more pictures).

Auf Wiedersehen!

- Kris

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas market

Heading to the Christmas market in Tubingen...
Evening shot of the Rathaus (City Hall)

A lot of people at the Christmas market (It's called the "Weinachtmarkt")

People milling about in Tubingen...

Beautiful sweaters at this vendor's booth...

An older woman from Algeria makes all these goodies (and they were GOOD... at least the ones I tasted!).
So... quiet day, I went to an orientation this morning that was worth going to... got some good information about Stuttgart. This afternoon I looked at houses online (still unable to contact the landlord of the one house and the housing office tried today too).
This evening I went with David & Carol to the Christmas market in Tubingen, it was a little chilly, but we had fun. I'm looking forward to the Christmas market in Strausbourg tomorrow!
We will be going on the "Marche de Noel" in Erstein, France, I think the walk starts about 5pm or so...
Okay... gotta scoot, I need to call my daughter Michelle and then head to bed. I'm hoping the dogs will let me sleep in tomorrow (one of the neighbor kids here at the hotel are going to walk the dogs for me tomorrow while I'm gone).
Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Almost done with another week...

This is in Stuttgart... before the snow...

This morning we woke up to a light dusting of snow on ice, so once again we got to go into work 2 hours late. Of course... I didn't realize we had a delay until AFTER I was up, showered and ready to take the dogs out for their morning walk. Oh well... it was nice to lay back down for a little bit. The dogs appreciated it too.
I went by the housing office to see if I could have them contact the landlord of the house in Steinenbronn, they tried, but couldn't get in touch with him. I tried a couple times when I was at work and then also sent an email. I hope he gets the email tonight? I have been looking online tonight and found a couple others I could go look at if it doesn't work out.
Didn't do too much at work today, had to call about a pay issue and someone thought I had stuff in storage (nope)... so got that resolved. I also met with a client today for about an hour... interesting person.
Tonight I gave the dogs a bath (I lead such an exciting life sometimes! ha ha!). Now they are both tired and are wanting to sleep. I guess I'd better get them out for their bedtime walk and then think about heading to bed.

My boss is out of the office tomorrow (Friday) and Monday. She's going to London for a long weekend. I hope its a quiet day tomorrow (no reason it shouldn't be). Oh yea... I forgot, I was going to go over for orientation tomorrow morning. Hope I remember tomorrow (otherwise I'll do it on Monday).

Okay... signing off...
Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Frequent "break-ups"

So... it warmed up and a LOT of the snow has melted. It reminds me of "break-up" in Alaska... guess I'll need to get used to frequent "break-ups" LOL!

This photo should be captioned... "You know you are in Germany when..." (look at the "bottom" floor... notice anything wrong with this picture?). LOL... thought you'd get a kick out of this too (it was inside an elevator).
Today: I felt like I had a productive day. 1) I went to the Vehicle processing center and found out that the boat with my car on it, is due into Bremerhaven (port on the North Coast of Germany) on December 17th. (9 more days... whoohooo!). SO... I'm hoping I get a nice Christmas present in the form of MY car. Of course... once it gets here I'll need to get it winterized, inspected and deal with all the costs associated with getting it registered here. So... 2), I ordered two new Snow tires (although if the tires on my car are not all-season radials... I'll have to get two more real quick!).
#3), I *finally* got my ID/Computer card straightened out and I *now* have access to the computer at work (so I can start doing some on-line training and start seeing clients soon!). #4) I went and looked at the house in Vaihingen. It's okay. It's not as nice as it looked in the pictures though. It's "dated" and they want more for it than it's worth (the house I looked at last night was a lot newer and nicer and less money). So... tomorrow I'll go to the housing office to see if the house in Steinenbronn is still available (houses go fast here!). The landlords have a lot of freedom to decide who they will rent to.
Anyway... I felt like I got a lot done.
Not much else to write about tonight... so I'm going to sign off. It's almost 9:30pm here.
Auf Wiedersehen,
- Kris

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I just love this picture... and I've decided to add it to my Christmas card this year (which at this rate, won't go out until after the 1st of the year!). I haven't found a place over here that I can get photo Christmas cards made, so I decided to try and order some through Vista Print or Walmart. And because they weigh more than a pound, they cannot ship them over here to me. SO... I'm having them sent to my middle daughter and have asked her to send them on to me. (I'll be better prepared next year!).

Work-wise... I'm STILL not able to get on the computer. Maybe next week (at the rate I'm gong???).

I did go look at a house today, it's really nice, however, its kind of in what I would describe as a "bedroom community." It's a nice little town about 10-15 minutes from where I work. The *only* downside I see, is that it wouldn't be real convenient for visitors. Visitors could walk about 10 minutes into the center of the town and from there (if they were brave) they could catch a bus into Stuttgart or somewhere. Tomorrow I am supposed to look at a place that is in a town that has a train stop. That's the one I've been eyeing the most. I'll see how it goes. This house was in the town of Steinenbronn (if you want to google it). The house tomorrow is in Viahingen, Germany. (Both are SW of Stuttgart).

Okay... I've been fiddling on the computer all night (I also ordered some address labels and some business cards)... and its already time to take the dogs out for their bedtime walk. Today has been rainy day here (so... sloshy). Also, I think we've found another person to go on the Christmas volksmarch with us this weekend. So, that'll be 5 of us from the hotel now! And it's expected to be rainy or snowy... so we'll be doing it in our boots. *smiles* Nothing like breaking my new friends in the hard way to Volksmarching! LOL!.

Gotta scoot...

Auf Wiedersehen,
- Kris