Monthly Archives: June 2010

Tea Time in Munich

Munich, being a world-class city, has plenty of various restaurant offerings, not just the traditional Bavarian fare. A few weekends ago, Rosebud and I went to Munich with our friends Veronika and her daughter Lilly. We had hoped to go to the zoo, but the weather didn’t cooperate.

We thought about going to the Deutsches Museum, the German Museum, which is the Museum of Technology and Industry. It’s the largest museum of its kind, similar to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. In fact, the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry was inspired by the Deutsches Museum. Unfortunately for us, we arrived a few minutes too late to gain admission to the Deutsches Museum – that will be for another day.

Instead, Veronika suggested we have Cream Tea at the Victorian House on the Viktualienmarkt. It turned out to be an excellent idea, as the tea house was fairly empty owing to an upcoming World Cup match between Germany and Australia. I tend to mostly drink tea, myself, so I was excited to have a proper Cream Tea. We ordered an Orange Pekoe tea and had some of the yummiest scones, served with clotted cream and strawberry jam.

Rosebud hadn’t tasted strawberry jam before. It was love at first bite.

Rosebud discovers her love for strawberry jam, on a scone with clotted cream

She liked the scone with the clotted cream, and enjoyed drinking tea with me. But the strawberry jam was definitely the highlight of Cream Tea for Rosebud. She kept asking me to put more on her half of the scone. It was very cute!

Cream Tea at the Victorian House, Munich, near the Viktualienmarkt

Veronika in the Victorian House, enjoying Cream Tea

The scones were the best I’ve ever tasted – but then again, I don’t think that the scones you find in the United States are quite like what are made in the UK. The scones were barely sweetened, buttery and absolutely delicious; the clotted cream was heavenly. The Victorian House has a sconery and tea to go location. I think the next time I’m in Munich, I need to find it so I can bring home a few scones. We now have some locally-made strawberry jam, so Rosebud will be able to have as much jam on her scone as she likes!

Tooooooooor! Fußball (Soccer) and World Cup Craziness

Fußball, Football, Soccer (as we call it in the US) – it’s here, it’s crazy and it’s totally fun! I don’t know how many of you are following the World Cup games in South Africa, but the Germans and most other Europeans are crazy for the World Cup. We have also been watching a lot of the games. The two students I tutor asked me who I was rooting for. “The United States, of course,” I said, “but I think Germany will probably get further in the World Cup, so I am rooting for Germany, too.” They seemed satisfied by my answer.

Because Germans are so excited by the World Cup matches (called the Weltmeisterschaft in German, or the WM), nearly everyone gets into the spirit of the games. Prior to 2006, when the WM was held in Germany, you didn’t really see too many flags around. But when the World Cup was held here in 2006, people put little flags on their cars, they hung flags out their windows, painted little flags on their cheeks, etc. I happened to be in Hamburg in 2006 with a student group, so we got all the extra excitement that comes along with being in the hosting nation. It was really one of the first times I had seen Germans waving flags. Due to Germany’s history, flag-waving had been frowned upon before this. Once again during the EM (Europameisterschaft, or the European Cup) matches in 2008, Germans got out their flags. And this year is no different! One of our neighbors across the street from us suddenly put up a flag in their yard, for example.

It’s so much fun to be in a country that gets so into the World Cup. Germany’s first game this year was against Australia, and they handily beat the Australians (the Socceroos) 4-0. During that match, as I was putting Rosebud to bed, I kept hearing all the neighbors cheering as Germany scored. The whole neighborhood went nuts when Germany scored!

Germany’s second game was aganist Serbia. We were eating lunch during the first half of the game, when I heard one of my neighbors yell out, “They scored! They scored! Yeah!!!” I was surprised when I tuned into the game and learned that the goal had been made by the Serbian team, and then I remembered one of our neighbors is from Serbia. After that game, my cousins who were visiting, Rosebud and I went to the town of Bad Tölz. There were several Serbian-supporters driving around in their cars, honking their horns and waving their flags.

In Bad Tölz, on that very same afternoon, we watched the US-Solvenia match in one of our favorite Italian ice cream shops. We ended up getting a draw with Slovenia, 2-2, but I still think our third goal should have been allowed and that one of the Slovenian players should have earned a Red Card rather than a yellow one. The Italians were teasing us as we were watching the game, and I think the local Germans were also amused by us.

Yesterday was Germany’s game against Ghana, held at 8:30 pm. It just so happened that my friend Kelly (who, incidentally, is also friends with the Shelby family), her husband and some of her friends arrived in Munich yesterday morning for vacation. We decided to meet for dinner at the Hirschgarten in Munich.

This turned out to be THE perfect venue for watching the game live! The Hirschgarten itself is a little park just west of the center of Munich, and not far from Schloss Nymphenburg. The restaurant and Biergarten caters more to local Müncheners rather than tourists. The restaurant itself has seating for 1,200 and the Biergarten has seating for 8,000. We knew we would have to get a table no later than 6 pm for our group if we wanted to be in a good place to see the TV screen.

Rosebud and I were already in Munich yesterday afternoon, as we went to the Tierpark Hellabrunn (the zoo) with our friends Veronika and Lilly. I knew it would take us some time to get to the Biergarten so we had David come to Munich directly from work to reserve our table. He managed to get us a great spot outside, in the restaurant part of the Biergarten.

So what’s a Biergarten, exactly? It’s like the ultimate picnic – in the non-restaurant part of a Biergarten, guests can usually bring their own food but they must purchase their beverages from the Biergarten at various stands set up throughout the space. For example, I saw one family that had brought their own box of fresh strawberries, a container of WM Gummi bears (in the colors of black, red and gold for the German flag) but had purchased plenty of Maßkrüge of beer of their table. A Maßkrug is the large glass mug that holds a liter of beer.

In the center of the park was a long stand of counters where guests could buy food if they wish, such as Schnitzel and Pommes (French fries), Hendl (roasted chicken), spare ribs, various Wurstl (sausages), salads, ice cream and enormous pretzels. There were also several drink counters throughout. You just had to grab your own mug and wait in line. Beer, of course, was what most people ordered, but water, soda and Schorle (a mix of sparkling water and juice) were available, too. Since we were sitting in the restaurant area, we had the privilege of ordering off the menu and getting our food brought to us. We did, however, immediately go buy some of the large pretzels, because I knew a certain little someone who would want one:

When we brought Rosebud her pretzel, her eyes got all big. She couldn’t believe there was so much pretzel-y goodness to be had at one time!

She takes a bite!

Daddy and Rosebud (and pretzel) in the Hirschgarten

The Biergarten was PACKED with fans, and it really was like a huge party. The atmosphere was tremendous, and I’m so glad we got to take part in the festive event. The food stands were busiest before the game started. I think I waited in line for twenty minutes to get some water and a Rhubarb Schorle for Rosebud – I should have just ordered from our waitress. I was especially pleased that we happened to have our friends with us, because what better way to experience the local culture and to have fun? They timed their visit to Munich well!

I didn’t see too many children in the Biergarten, apart from a number of babies. School is still in session here so I imagine most families with school-aged children didn’t want to be out so late. Rosebud was the only toddler we saw, but nobody seemed worried about her being there. She was well-behaved and really enjoyed herself. She was laughing and smiling much of the time, and had fun drawing with Kelly.

Germany played really well and in the second half of the match, the team was especially aggressive in trying to score goals against the Ghanians. Everyone in the Biergarten felt that energy, because suddenly everyone was singing a song that basically went, “Score a goal! Score a goal!” And not five minutes later, it happened! Germany scored a goal! The announced yelled, “Tooooooooooooooooor!” (“Goooooooooooooal!”) and everyone stood up and cheered. It was absolutely amazing to be a part of that and was like the icing on top of the cake for us on our evening out. Rosebud had the hugest grin on her face from all the noise and excitement.

Not too long after that, we decided to head back home even though the game wasn’t concluded. Kelly et. al. were feeling very jet-lagged, so they wanted to get back to their hotel. We had a bit of a commute ahead of us. We had to take the S-Bahn from München-Laim station back to Marienplatz, and then a bus from Marienplatz back to Tierpark where I had parked the car, then drive back home. We had no difficulties at all getting home, but it was well after midnight.

By the time we got to the Marienplatz station, the fans started heading home and it was clear that Germany had prevailed. Everyone was in a good mood, waving their flags. Some were even blowing vuvuzela horns.

Germany celebrates their win over Ghana (Marienplatz at night)

A festive atmosphere in central Munich, Marienplatz

This was the most fun we’ve had in a long time and was truly a night to remember. We will have to do it again!

A visit to the US Consulate in Munich

I needed to get some American legal documents notarized. The easiest way to do this was to make an appointment at the US Consulate as they offer notary services for US citizens. The alternative would have been to have the documents translated and to schedule a visit with a German lawyer. I am so thankful to my friend Veronika, who, yet again, has given me invaluable advice! I had mentioned to her I needed notary services and she very practically suggested I find an American notary.

I went up to Munich this afternoon, and I have to say, everything went as smoothly as I could imagine. Rosebud stayed home with our babysitter, which was for the best. I don’t think she would have appreciated being dragged around on my errands today.

At the Consulate itself, security was quite tight as you might imagine. First, a security guard checked my name on the appointment list. Then, before going through the security checkpoint, I gave the guards my electronic devices. They were very nice and asked me all about Baby Budlet. They laughed when I said that Budlet may be an Oktoberfest baby.

Somehow, I had envisioned that the notary would have been in a private office, but in actuality, all the US citizen services were housed in its own building. It was pretty straight-forward; I gave my documents and passport to one of the administrative assistants, then paid for the services (not cheap!), and then when the notary was ready, I went to her window and got my documents notarized. The Munich notary seal was very fancy and official-looking.

After getting my documents notarized, I was able to send them right away from the post office. Then I had a little free time to myself, so I walked to the Marienplatz and the Viktualienmarkt (the open air market). I enjoyed having a few hours to myself, even though much of it was for business purposes. In Marienplatz, I treated myself to one of my favorite snacks, roasted and candied almonds. I always enjoy walking around the Viktualienmarkt as there are all kinds of interesting little shops and stands, selling comestibles of all sorts. It was especially fun to walk past the little Biergarten in the Viktualienmarkt, as there were TVs showing the Portugual-North Korea World Cup football game.

All in all, it was a fairly pleasant afternoon for me, and interesting visiting the US Consulate. We will need to go back once Baby Budlet is born, to get his passport and other official documents for the United States. It’s good that I am now familiar with the office because that will hopefully make things go as smoothly then as they did today.

Blowing Bubbles

It’s been a mostly cold, wet spring here. Fortunately, our balconies are well-protected so Rosebud and I could still go outside and blow bubbles in the rain. When you have a toddler, it’s nice to have an outdoors activity you can do when it’s raining, as it was on this day.

Rosebud attempts to catch the bubbles

Bubbles are delightful!

Rouladen – German Meat Rolls

I thought I would share this delicious and fairly easy German recipe from my friend Mia.

Rouladen (German meat rolls)

Pound flat the beef you will be using. Season the underside of the meat with salt, pepper and paprika. Spread the inside of the meat with mustard (either sweet or yellow). Add some minced onion and a gherkin pickle (you can use cornichons or any other pickle you like). Roll the Rouladen, tie together with a string, and then brown in a pot (such as a Dutch oven). When the meat is browned, add enough liquid to cover (water, beef broth, maybe a splash of wine). Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to a simmer. Braise for two to three hours, until tender and delicious. Serve with potatoes or Spätzle.

Traveling with babies and young children

I’ve got a few posts in mind to make over the next few days. In the meantime, many of you may be interested in this post, entitled “Tips for Taking a Baby on a Plane”. There are so many good ideas here, and shows you that traveling with young children is doable and you shouldn’t be scared to travel with your kids. In fact, I’d say the younger you get them used to traveling, the more likely they’ll be good travelers as they get older.

Also, generally speaking, you should check out this blog, Gen X Moms Blog if you haven’t before. It’s a great parenting blog for those of us who are older parents. I really enjoy reading it.