Friday, September 23, 2011

Cooking up a Storm

Hello My Dear Family and Friends,

Now that I am about to leave Marburg, I have started to reflect on these past six weeks. One of the most amazing thing about my language course has been the wonderful field trips and experiences that we have been given.

A week ago we had the opportunity to participate in a cooking class. Our teacher was the most kind hearted woman.

She gave us a recipe book which included a handwritten recipe from her grandmother. And she set the table with cloth that was handspun and handsewn by her grandmother as well! Also on the beautiful table she set were flowers and grapes from her garden.

She welcomed us with Secco (bubbly wine from Germany) and these delightful pastries filled with cheese and grapes. 

And then we started cooking! Our teacher had prepared different stations for each dish.

I got to make the potato dish with Drew. Which I took as a great honor because Germans LOVE their potatoes!! So we embarked on our mission. First pealing 2 kg of potatoes and then shredding them.

Eventually we had two dishes of shredded potatoes and onions coated in tons of olive oil.

Then we baked them and they turned out a perfect golden brown. And very tasty!!

I also participated in the making of Spaetzle, which was great fun. First three lovely members of our group made the dough.

(Apparently it was a very confusing recipe). Then we boiled hot water and put the dough in small amount into the water.

Then we waited for the Spaetzles to rise to the top

And VIOLA...Spaetzle!

After the preparation we got to feast! First we had salads

And then we had meat and potatoes and spaetzle (all the heavy german stuff), and then last but of course not least we had dessert!! Yummy plums (also from the teacher's garden) soaked in red wine. Then the red wine was reduced into a yummy sauce and fresh whipped cream was slathered on top!

Yumm! All in all it was a wonderful way to spend a Wednesday night! Until next time,



Thursday, September 22, 2011

Saying "I don't speak French" in German won't help you

Hi Again!

I hope that everyone is doing well and getting settled into their daily fall routines! I'm about to leave Marburg (tomorrow), which is of course sad, but I am so excited about the next step! First I am going to live with a host family for a couple of weeks (which I will be sure to tell you all about) and then I get to move into an apartment in Darmstadt! First important news: I HAVE AN APARTMENT!! That one sentence makes me so happy. I spent weeks fretting and stressing and making many people around me generally miserable because I had no where to live. And then I found it: the perfect place!! My room is perfect! Much bigger than anything I have ever lived in (granted I have been living in dorms for the past 4 years) and has a lofted bed! I have three roommates, who seem great. I will of course introduce them, but at a later date. The kitchen is well stocked and very cosy. It's in the old part of town! All in all, things are great!

Anyway...the real reason I am writing this post is to tell all of you about my lovely trip to Strasbourg that I took (now about three weeks ago--I'm so sorry I'm bad with immediate updates). I went with the most wonderful group of people! My travel companions:

Michelle is a very good friend of mine from the language program. She is studying Chemistry in Karlsruhe (which is just an hour south of Darmstadt, so I can visit her all the time!).

Drew is Michelle's Partner and he is just as awesome as she is! He works for a company doing computer programing! He loves history and so made the trip very interesting by knowing all those historical details that I am blissfully ignorant about. 

Martin is studying International (i think) Finance (I am at least sure about the finance piece). He studying in France last year and so is very proficient in French, which is wonderful because he got us around the city!

and last but not least...Nutmeg
Nutmeg is Michelle's and Drew's dog who is a wonderful travel companion! She slept in my bed every night!

So now that you know all the players, let me tell you the story! We arrived in Strasbourg (separately because we were all coming from different places). If you don't know where Strasbourg is, let me inform you. It is on the border of France in Germany.

Only that last 20 minutes of my train ride there were actually in France! The borders are now open in Europe, so the only way I actually new I was entering France was that the train announcements switched from German and then French to French and then German.

Drew and Michelle were not in there yet when I arrived so I went to dinner with Martin. I had a lovely Flammkuchen

at this fantastic restaurant that had the most magnificent view. Now let me clarify something. EVERYWHERE in Strasbourg has a wonderful view! The city sits on a river, but the river forks a lot, so there is some many beautiful houses all lined up on these banks. And this city LOVES flowers. So flowers are just spilling out of every bridge and every balcony of every house!

After eating this pizza like thing that was bigger than my head, Martin and I met up with Michelle and Drew for another dinner (you will notice a theme of eating in this trip). At another restaurant with another beautiful view.

The next day we took a long walk around the city! We found this amazing farmers market where I had a slight freak out over the amount of cheese that was readily available to me.

We walked along the river and took in all the beautiful sites of the city.

And then we got a little tired and a little grumpy and decided that we really needed some food. So when in France, do as the French do! We assembled a wonderful picnic of wine, cheese, a baguette, and cookies, picked a wonderful spot by the river and relaxed for several hours.

After we had had our fill of food, napping, and giving Nutmeg love, we decided to become tourists again. We visited a museum in the old palace in the city.

The museum was wonderful! In the beginning I was far from interested. There was a lot of medieval church artwork that I find very boring. But then we got into the twentieth century and I became my usual self in museums! Then we walked over to the beautiful cathedral.

The next day was very rainy, so we had a lazy day. We found this wonderful funky restaurant for breakfast and shared a salad, sandwich, and meat platter plus two desserts!

Then we napped and read for most of the afternoon. We celebrated our last night in Strasbourg having a very long dinner. We started the night early at one restaurant where we had wine and appetizers. Then we wandered to this second (very odd) restaurant for main courses. It had a very clubby atmosphere with a lot of loud music, cool light fixtures, funky cube menus, cool placemats, and black and white movies playing on the wall.  I had Foie Gras that was fantastic!

All in all I had the most lovely time!

Until next time,


Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Perfect Rainy Day

Hi There,

I know that I just posted about Frankfurt, but I just had the most perfect rainy day that I wanted to share with you all.

You know how rainy days can sometime be depressing? Or how other times all you want to do is curl back under the covers and go to sleep? Well my rainy day today was nothing like this!

It started out a non rainy Sunday. I woke up at 11am and felt the need to get out and do something. So I decided a walk would be the perfect activity for the day. Behind the Studentendorf (the dorms I am living in) are a bunch of woods. There are many paths in these woods. Most of them are old logging trails and lead all over the place. Today I decided to journey through these woods to the Kaiser Wilheml Turm.

It is named for Kaiser Wilhelm I. The Kings of Germany really liked to remind people that they were king, so in every "good" German city a monument was supposed to be built to honor them. In Marburg this tower was built over the course of 14 years (well really, first one tower was constructed and then it fell down before it was finished so another tower was built again several years later) and was finally finished in 1890. That very prominent (it is highly debated whether or not it is ugly) cross like thing and heart light up at night. They were put on the tower in 2009 for the 500th anniversary of St. Elizabeth (for whom a LOT of things are named in Marburg). At night the cross is usually lit up, but when you call a special number

the heart lights up. It costs a certain amount to call, but all the proceeds from the call goes to research for either AIDS or some cancer (a good cause in other words).

From the tower there is the most beautiful view of Marburg.

(It was about to storm, which is why it looks so dark.)

Due to the impending storm, Rachel (my journey companion for the day) and I took cover in the lovely cafe that resides in the turm.

We ended up spending 3.5 lovely hours there. We slowly ate our way through quiche, wurst, 2 pieces of cake, 3 coffees, 2 teas, and apple wine.

We also read (I continued my attempt to read Harry Potter in German), watched adorable German children splash in the rain, talked to the lovely waitress about the roses she had bought the other day, and witnessed the most epic storm I have seen since coming to Germany. There was tons of blitz and donner (lighting and thunder). The rain was so thick that you couldn't even see the city anymore.

(This is in the same direction that I took the previous pictures)

After the storm we were greeted with the most wonderful surprise:

The city was blanketed in clouds! You could just see the castle poking out of them. It was the most beautiful sight! I could gush about this for hours, but I think the pictures can at least give you a feel for how wonderful it was. And now it is time for me to go to sleep early...the perfect end to a perfect day!

Much love to you all,


Frolicking in Frankfurt

Hi All,

Two weekends ago I went to Frankfurt! I finally got to see the city that I was going to be near for the year!

As soon as we arrived in Frankfurt, we were immediately rushed to a three hour walking tour of the city!! Now I don't know about you, but my attention span and my feet are not quite up to three hours worth of information. And on top of that, take into account that the tour was entirely in German! Yep...I was in trouble! However, the lovely tour guide talked slowly and used simplistic sentence structures (which is not common in Germany!). I ended up understanding more than 50% of the tour! Pretty amazing!

We started our tour in the tourist center of Frankfurt.

It is an old square that was mostly demolished in the war, so most of the building that you see are new. There was one building that survived because it was close to the river and they kept it from burning down with the use of the river water. The first stop on our tour was a museum that used to be an old church.

Then we walked by a WONDERFUL looking sweet shop. Unfortunately we did not have enough time on the tour to sample any of the delicious goodies, and when I went back 6 hours later there was only one piece of strudel left in the entire shop! That was it! Note: Germans love sweet things!

From there we walked to the river (the Main). There was a festival going on on the banks of the river, so it was VERY crowded. On the bridge (in typical German fashion) they had dedicated the stair case on the right side of the bridge for those coming on to the bridge and the stair case on the left side for those exiting the bridge. You could tell who was a foreigner because they were not very good at following this order and would get yelled at by one of the festival workers patrolling the bridge!

After seeing the Main, we walked around a couple of museums. Frankfurt is LOUSY with museums! There are at least 15 museums that people suggested I visit! I will be taking several classes a week in Frankfurt, so my plan is to visit them after my classes. We didn't go in any of these museums, but we did see this outdoor art work in front of the contemporary museum.

And I think that even the building of modern art museum (which is different from the contemporary museum by the way) is pretty interesting!

There was also some ruins of Roman baths that we passed

and an old church that isn't really that old anymore because they have rebuilt it so many times. In the old church we got to crash a Croatian wedding!

Because Frankfurt is so international (30% of the people who live there are not German!) you can always find a religious service in your language. This particular church has services in Croatian and German.

The last stop on our tour was the Goethe House. This is the house was originally two town houses, one of which Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's (who I will from now on refer to simply as Goethe because it is much easier) father grew up in. His father then bought the adjacent town house and turned them into one bigger house. Goethe was born here and the house is now set up like it would have been when he was growing up.

After the tour of this house, our three our tour was over. Our first stop after this tour was a mall (because the only things to do in Frankfurt are shop and go to museums). However, I did not do any shopping here. In this mall there is the longest escalator in Europe

 (this picture does not even begin to capture how big this thing was. The escalator was the entire length of the mall and then went up four flights!!) At the top of the building was a nice viewing platform, where you could see all of Frankfurt (for free!)

Then we wandered to a lovely (and HUGE) farmers market! I hope that this farmers market is open every Saturday because I really want to come during the rest of the year and pick up wonderful cheese and vegetables. I had not eaten anything all day (except a cheesy delicious baked bread thing and coffee) so this farmers market was perfect! I first had a waffle with current jam on it

before picking up different cheeses, bread, and current wine with my friend, Rachel!

We then preceded to sit by the Main and indulge in our picnic. While we were eating we saw a beautiful rainbow

For those of you that don't know I LOVE RAINBOWS! This alone could have made my day perfect! However, as you can see there were so many other things to make this day fantastic!

After our picnic it was time to go home. So we trekked back to the bus, piled in, and drove back home to our lovely Marburg.

Tons of love,