Tag Archives: München

Superdude’s first visit to München

We had a little shopping to do, so we went up to Munich yesterday for the afternoon. It went better than I could have imagined! Rosebud loved looking at all the people, dogs and she was especially excited about the S-Bahn (though technically it was the U-Bahn). We drove to Solln, a neighborhood on the South side to park (just one Euro for the day!), then took the U-Bahn to Sendlingertor, the stop before Marienplatz.

Marienplatz is the main square in Munich, where the Neuesrathaus with its carillon is located; Sendlingertor is one of the gates and not too far of a walk from Marienplatz. We picked a nice afternoon for our first outing with both Rosebud and Superdude. The weather was not too cold, although definitely jacket and hat weather.

We spent the majority of our time at a café so we could eat lunch and I could leisurely nurse Superdude. The servers at the café were enchanted by Superdude, but they also doted on Rosebud. She seemed truly happy to be out and about. When I took Superdude to the women’s bathroom for a change, it was fun to hear all the comments from the other mamas and grandmothers. One woman was disappointed when I was leaving, because she said she was going to offer to hold Superdude for me.

After we had our lunch, we did our shopping and then were ready to head home. I enjoyed getting out of the house, and it was so nice to have a little family outing like that. Next time we are in Munich, I will remember to take some pictures. Rosebud was just eleven weeks old when she first visited Munich, so I’d like to take some similar photos of Superdude for fun.

Advertisements

Wiesn – Oktoberfest 2010

Wiesn, which is what Münchners call Oktoberfest, officially started this weekend. It’s the 200th anniversary of Oktoberfest this year. Well, technically, this is only the 177th time Oktoberfest has taken place, but as a tradition is started 200 years ago.

Also notable is that for the first time, smoking has been banned from the Oktoberfest tents. Bavarians voted on this law a few months ago, making it the strictest anti-smoking regulation in Germany (there are more aspects to the law, but the most publicity I’ve seen has been in relation to Oktoberfest, probably to let visitors know about the Rauchverbot – no smoking).

Why is Oktoberfest called Wiesn? Wiesn is a Bavarian word for “field” because the first Oktoberfest in 1810 was held in the Theresienwiesen – Theresa field – as part of the wedding festivities for Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Theresa.

One of my friends asked me this about Oktoberfest:
“Do many people were traditional costumes?”

Absolutely – but here in Bavaria, especially where we live, it’s not at all unusual to see the locals wearing their traditional Bavarian clothing (Dirndls for the women, Lederhosen for the men) during the year. Of course, people who work at the festival tend to dress up in their traditional clothing, and many people who visit the festival do, as well. Before the festival gets underway, many of the shops and department stores in Munich offer Trachten (the costumes) and have displays in their storefront windows.

Here’s a fun factoid about Dirndls:
Buas (boys), if you’re looking for a Madl (girl) at Oktoberfest, pay attention to how a lady has tied the bow on her apron. If the bow is tied on the left, then she is available (“Schleife links, Glück bringt’s! ” – Bow on the left brings you good luck!). To the right, then sorry, she is taken (likely married). In the middle means the Madl you have your eye on is perhaps unsure of her status.

If you’re looking for tips on finding the perfect Dirndl for celebrating Oktoberfest, this article has some good suggestions such as: choose cotton because you can just throw it in the wash, don’t have a floor-length Dirndl because it will get dirty and anyway, the Kerls (guys) appreciate a bit of leg. 😉

For those of you who are German speakers, you can learn some Baierisch (Bavarian) words you might hear at the Oktoberfest in this little online Oktoberfest Lexicon. Or if you prefer, check out what the Wiesn Horoscope has in store for you!

For German news about Oktoberfest, you can read articles online here:
Oktoberfest-2010

Because baby Budlet is due to arrive any day now, we won’t be going to the festival this year, but how fun that we will have an Oktoberfest baby!

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.

Planes, trains and automobiles

We are still in the process of getting our 2009 Toyota Prius certified by the German government. Here every vehicle has to go through the TÜV process which is like a vehicle inspection. It’s very extensive, and we were told that we would need to have our headlights changed to xenon ones, plus a few other modifications on the headlamp system to make it up to German standards. Xenon lights are expensive. Originally we thought the work would be done at the Toyota Dealership in Bad Tölz. The mechanic there said it would cost us around 4,000 Euro. That’s a lot of money! Fortunately, the mechanic said he would make some calls to see if he could get us an exemption.

He didn’t succeed in that, but the mechanic did manage to find a special TÜV office and mechanic, called US Cars 24 in the city of Wuppertal, who will do the required work for less than half of what we would have paid in Tölz, and in addition, not all of the modifications will be needed because this business has the necessary exemptions and exceptions needed.

Our car arrived in Germany in mid-February, but we haven’t been able to drive it apart from a few occasions. In order to receive our permanent license plates, we need to have the car certified, basically, and until we have the green light from the TÜV process, we are not able to get our license plates.

In order to have the work done, we needed to figure out how to transport our car to their business. It made the most sense for one of us to drive our Prius there. We decided that I would drive up to Wuppertal on Tuesday (yesterday), and originally I was going to take Rosebud with me. David was able to stay home yesterday and care for our daughter. This made things immensely easier for me.

Where is Wuppertal in relation to where we live? Wuppertal is 680 kilometers to the northwest us, or about 422 miles. That’s similar to me driving from Indianapolis, Indiana to Memphis, Tennessee. Wuppertal is in the German state of Nordrhein Westfalen, which has the largest population density in Germany. When you look at the map, you can see how many cities there are in that region, including Bonn, Köln (Cologne), Düsseldorf and Dortmund.

When I started my drive on Tuesday morning at 7:00 am, I actually didn’t have an address – when I had called the evening before to say I was driving there with my car, I think the office had already closed. All I knew is that I needed to drive to Wuppertal (my mechanic in Bad Tölz didn’t know the name of the company, just that they specialize in the TÜV process for American-imported vehicles). Fortunately, I was able to get in touch with the secretary during my first stop outside of Ulm. She gave me precise directions in how to get to their business, and indeed her directions were easy to follow.

It took me seven hours to arrive at my destination, in part because I stopped a few times and also because I don’t feel comfortable driving quite as fast as some German drivers do on the Autobahn. It’s true that in most places on the Autobahn, there isn’t a speed limit. But I would say most drivers seemed to go around 130 km per hour in unmarked zones. That’s equivalent to 80 miles per hour. I personally was more comfortable driving around 110-120 km per hour, around 68-74 mph. I didn’t want to go too slow, because it’s also good to keep up with traffic.

The Autobahn is like the US Interstate system, although to my knowledge there aren’t any toll portions. And like in the US, if you follow the signs, you’ll get where you need to go – with one caveat. In comparison to driving on a US Interstate highway, I feel that there is less time to change lanes if I needed to merge onto another Autobahn highway (like merging onto another Interstate highway). It wasn’t a problem, but I think that as an American driver, you just have to know that you need to react more quickly to information posted in comparison to driving in the US. One thing that is awesome about the Autobahn is how well maintained it is. As far as that goes, the roads are generally in much better condition that the US Interstate system.

I did run into a number of Baustellen – construction zones. Ah, yes – they’re ubiquitous. But because it was a Tuesday morning, the construction zones didn’t really delay me all that much. It was a little harrying on the A1 to Wuppertal, because the driving lanes were narrower than I like, but fortunately that was just a small part of my drive.

I was warmly greeted at UScars24 when I arrived. Also, I couldn’t help but notice the gorgeous vintage cars in the parking lot, including a blue 60’s era Chevy Malibu muscle car and what I think was a cream-colored 50’s era Buick of some sort. I am not a car person so I am sorry I can’t give more details for those of you who are into cars. And when I entered the main office, I was delighted by the lovingly decorated reception: 50’s Americana, à la Route 66. They also had a wall of US and Canadian license plates. I’m tempted to bring them our Indiana Environmental plate for their wall! Needless to say, with the warm reception and care I received, I felt no qualms whatsoever leaving my baby car with them.

Then one of the owners of the business drove me to the Wuppertal train station so I could catch the local express to the Düsseldorf Hauptbahnhof (main train station), and then the express to the airport in Düsseldorf. On our way to the train station, the owner and I talked a little about the city of Wuppertal. It’s basically in a steep valley, with the buildings built up the sides of the valley. One of the neatest things you can visit in Wuppertal is the Schwebebahn, which is a suspended train that runs through the central valley of Wuppertal and is still used today for local transportation to get from one end of the city to the other. The suspended train is a beautiful structure and unique. I don’t know if there are any other trains like this in the world. The last time I visited Wuppertal was in 1994 when I was an exchange student, and we got to ride in the same historic train coach (or at least, a replica) that had been commissioned for Kaiser Wilhelm II. The Schwebebahn is definitely worth visiting.

It was a piece of cake to take the trains to the Düsseldorf airport (which is a lovely airport, by the way). My wait in the airport and my flight back to München were the most relaxing part of my day, actually. I had several hours to myself and actually got to do some reading! This was very exciting for a parent of a toddler who usually reads books like Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and The Going to Bed Book.

I arrived in the Munich airport a little after 20:00 (8:00 pm), and caught the next S-Bahn to the station where I needed to change trains to head back home to Bad Tölz. When my S-Bahn arrived in the train station, my train to Bad Tölz was at the next platform… just ready to depart. I missed it by a minute! And unfortunately that meant I had to wait for another hour to catch the next train at 22:00 (10:00 pm), and it was cold and windy in the station which didn’t have a place to sit, other than on the platform. But I got on the train to Bad Tölz with no difficulties, and arrived in Bad Tölz at 23:00 (11:00 pm). It was raining by this point, so it wasn’t much fun waiting for my taxi. I was so relieved when it arrived at the train station. I finally got home by 23:30 or so.

Such a long day of automobile, trains, plane, trains and automobile once again! It was really good that I didn’t have to worry about caring for Rosebud, because that would have made the day feel even longer. I was pretty wiped out by such a long, involved day – but the main thing is, our car is now on its way to being finished and certified for us, which will give us a lot more independence.

Photos from Tierpark Hellabrunn – the Munich Zoo

In mid-August, we went to the zoo, and I wrote about how much fun Rosebud had with the monkeys in this post, “Rosebud Interacts with the Monkeys”.

Our friend Jeremy shared his pictures with us, and I wanted to put some up on our blog. As I mentioned before, it’s a beautiful zoo. The pictures don’t quite do the zoo justice.

Rosebud and Mama at the zoo

Rosebud and Mama at the zoo

Rosebud looks at the animals

Rosebud looks at the animals

Rosebud practices walking at the zoo

Rosebud practices walking at the zoo

DSC_4387

Dory: [Reading a door] Hey, look. "Es-ca-pay". Hey, it's spelled just like escape."

Dory (Reading a door): Hey, look. Es-ca-pay. Hey, it's spelled just like escape!

DSC_4406

Mom, look at the monkey!

Mom, look at the monkey!

The monkey is playing with me!

The monkey is playing with me!

In the primate house

In the primate house

Lemurs?  Or wannabee housecats?

Lemurs? Or wannabee housecats?

DSC_4477

DSC_4479

school of fish

school of fish

Rosebud: Mama, I've had a big day and I'm tired.

Rosebud: Mama, I've had a big day and I'm tired.

Rosebud interacts with the monkeys

The past few days have been sunny and hot, so we decided that yesterday would be a perfect day to go to Tierpark Hellabrunn, or the Munich City Hellabrunn Zoo.

I was impressed by the zoo, and we had a very enjoyable outing. The zoo makes excellent use of their space, giving the animals as much room to roam as possible. According to their website, it was the first zoo to establish geographical land areas for the animals. The zoo also has a neat exhibit on protecting animals and their habitat, veterinary practices and ecology. Rosebud is too little to appreciate these concepts at the moment, but as she gets older, I will take her back to that exhibit.

Our day didn’t start off on quite the right note. I was putting sunblock on Rosebud’s friend, Aby, when Rosebud was stung by a bee on her hand. Fortunately, I had some child-safe ointment in my purse which seemed to really help. It’s awful, though, when your child is hurting and there is not much you can do other than soothe them. Rosebud’s finger got a little swollen but over the course of the afternoon, looked better and better; today you wouldn’t even know she had been stung. So that’s a relief to me and her both.

Rosebud is old enough now that she takes a much keener interest in the animals. We especially enjoyed the Urwaldhaus, where the monkeys are housed.

I parked Rosebud’s stroller by the glass so she could see the monkeys at play. There was one young monkey who clearly was hamming it up for the visitors. This monkey would run along the side of the glass and was generally playful with the other monkeys.

Rosebud was giggling at all the silly monkeys (who, I must admit, really remind me of toddlers). The playful monkey ran past the glass again and stopped in front of Rosebud. Then, the monkey tapped on the glass, looked as if it were laughing, and then ran in circles. We were all laughing, and Rosebud thought it was hilarious. The monkey “played” with her in this way several more times. It was adorable!

One primate exhibit we saw features the Lisztaffe.

Lisztaffe, or Cottontop Tamarin

Lisztaffe, or Cottontop Tamarin

They are called Cottontop or Pinché Tamarins in English. So why are they called Lisztaffe, or Liszt monkeys, in German? They were so named after the Austrian-Hungarian composer, Franz Liszt, who apparently sported the same hairstyle as the tamarins:

Franz Liszt and his mane of white hair

Franz Liszt and his mane of white hair

This fact amuses me to no end!

I took lots of pictures yesterday, but they’re on old-school film. I will need to wait for them to get developed and will post pictures later on. I am having fun getting reacquainted with my SLR, but I do miss having the instantaneous access to my photos in digital format.