Thursday, July 30, 2009

Her Maiden Voyage

The last time we saw the Sebring, in Newark, New Jersey, before she got put in a container with a Porsche Boxster and a Mercedes and on the ship to the old world. Too bad Porsche and Sebring didn't make any babies, they probably would've been pretty sweet!

Let me just start with this: Never before have I adored a car as I adore my Sebring. She is reliable, looks good, and drives so smoothly! It made me very sad, and pretty mad, when I hit that stupid deer back in April. Never before did I want to kill something like I wanted to kill that deer! I never thought I would become a person who likes driving a 6-cylinder or even care, but it really does make a difference. And for those of you tree-huggers who are thinking "A 6-cylinder! But you're killing the environment!" No, I'm not. This car gets the same or better gas mileage as our old Volvo, and way better than the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which we sold not so much out of our wish to conserve gas, but more out of our wish to conserve our Euros.

Sebring arrived last weekend in Bremerhaven, Germany. All the paperwork was finished pretty quickly, and Sauer Kraut went to get her yesterday. Sebring arrived mostly unscathed, she got a couple little dings on the way, but no paint damage, and who knows, maybe the tiny dents were already there before she left the new world. Fortunately, Sebring did not suffer the fate of a Corvette at the same agents':

Ouch. Something fell on that car's roof! The owner was circling the car with a VERY sour look on his face...

Customs in Bremerhaven was no problem, we had all of our paperwork in order and since this car was brought as part of a move and we have owned it for nearly a year, we didn't have to pay any import tax. The first thing I heard about Sebring's maiden voyage: "It drives so much better than the BMW!" (S.K. drove a rental car to get the Sebring) The drive went well, Sebring likes the Autobahn. Then, later on, about 59 kilometers from Dresden, I got a call informing me that something metal just flew off the car and whatever it was couldn't be found. Maybe it was the antenna, the antenna broke off because of a crazy wind situation due to things attached to the luggage rack on the roof. Huh. About a half hour later, I got another call that the car quit on the A13 Autobahn. Excuse me? This made me kind of sad, thinking that this may be Sebring's first and last tour in Germany. I had to call ADAC and order a tow truck or a "yellow angel", the guy who comes and helps you when your car dies. So, the yellow angel arrived quickly, and I also received a call pretty soon: The car is running again! And guess what the problem was: the gas tank was empty. That was a pretty expensive fill-up courtesy of ADAC. Apparently, the gas gauge did not show that the gas was nearly out. Maybe it's just confused because the shippers had to pump out the remaining gas to ship the car. Or maybe they filled up the tank with contraband and forgot to take it out before giving us our car back. This really did happen not too long ago in Michigan: a man bought a used car, and the gas gauge always showed a half tank or so. Finally, he got the car checked out, and the gas tank was full of cocaine.

Today we had some things to do in Dresden, and it is just amazing how people stare at our car. For me, she's just a normal car, but for the Dresdner, it's something like a UFO. I think it's because she is lower than most cars, like Passats or even Mini Coopers, and she is long and sleek, so she has the essence of a race car. In the parking garage at the supermarket, some guys were staring at her, and got these goofy smiles on their faces as if they just fell in love with Sebring. Give me €10,000 and in a year, she's yours. Before that we'd have to pay some major tax for selling her. No, not really. I think I'll keep her. She's something special, not only good looking, but practical. You should see her trunk!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Numbers 9 and 10!

This whole thing is starting to puzzle me. This morning we went out for a walk, and on the sidewalk next to our current undisclosed location in Dresden, I found four leaf clovers numbers 9 and 10. First one, then the other jumped out at me. They are currently in the kitchen in some water, but I will add them to the collection of dry ones in my notebook soon. Why do I need so much luck this summer? Or does it mean we are doing everything right?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Where did Sauer Kraut get his name?

This is just an informational post so that no one thinks I am being mean or abusive to my husband. There are actually 2 phases that relate to the history of his being dubbed Sauer Kraut.
Phase 1 involved my parents visiting Germany for our wedding. He was preparing some food in our kitchen, and it involved large amounts of sauerkraut, so there was a big bowl of sauerkraut on our counter. He pointed to the bowl and said "See? This is why we are called Krauts!"

Phase 2 came shortly before our departure from Michigan. We were not so happy with our situation right then, and some even came to believe we were somewhat soured by the whole experience. My brother informed my mom one day that he had had my husband on his sandwich. She didn't understand, and asked for clarification. He explained that he had had a Reuben sandwich for lunch, this consists of rye bread, corned beef, swiss cheese, sauce, and, you guessed it, sauerkraut. And hence, the title, "Sauer Kraut".
The most beautiful dairy in the world

This is an interior view of Pfunds Molkerei, also known as the "Most beautiful milk shop in the world" according to the Guiness Book of World Records. It is located right in my neighborhood, tucked in a little place on Bautzner Str. It's easiest to locate by following all the tourist busses on Bautzner Str., they are certainly headed there. Or to the brewery. Anyway, what's so special about this place is that it is completely tiled in gorgeous hand painted porcellain tiles. And they sell all kinds of delicious cheese! One disadvantage of this place: it doesn't smell very good in the summer.

Anyway, my Sauer Kraut had a little run in with the milk shop today. He was headed to the butcher shop with little Kraut in our latest undisclosed location, in the same neighborhood as the most beautiful milk shop in the world. On our current street, which is a pedestrian zone, he was stopped by an unsuspecting non-native English-speaking tourist. Sauer Kraut was in an especially fun-loving mood today.

Non-native English speaker: "Excuse me, where is the milk shop?"
Sauer Kraut: "Well, there are lots of places to buy milk around here, but it's 6 p.m. on a Saturday, so most of them are closed."
Non-native English speaker walks away with an annoyed look on her face.

S.K. was pleased with these results, and glowing upon his fruitless return from the butcher shop. You see, it was 6 p.m. on Saturday, so the butchers were all closed.
What a lucky day!

My new bunny looks something like this, only a much lighter gray, almost white. We stopped by a friend's house today after looking at an apartment (where I just so happened to find four leaf clover number 8 in the garden) to visit and see his bunnies, since I had heard there had been great bunny changes at his house. Wow, have they got bunnies! 2 litters to be exact, and at least 2 pairs of adult buns. One litter is 6 weeks old, the other litter is a little older. The precious creamy gray bunny is currently 6 weeks and will be available in 2 weeks! She was spoken for, but since the person who wanted her has gone bankrupt and left behind a really nice apartment on the top floor of my friend's house, she won't be able to take the precious bun. We would also love to take the apartment, but it is currently a bit expensive for us. But we will see if we can work something out. Precious bun is ours!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Did you know...

that in Germany if you find an empty parking spot on the street and your passenger jumps out to stand in the spot while you turn around to drive to the spot, it is legal for another car to come and slowly drive into the parking spot, making contact with the human standing in the spot and pushing him/her out of the way with the car? There have been court cases regarding exactly this, and the person pushing the other person out of the way in the car won.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

We're baaa-aaack!

After nearly 24 hours of being in transit, from our hotel in New York to our temporary place in an undisclosed location just outside Dresden, then a couple days of lots of sleep, we have arrived.
Being away for ten months now just seems like a blurry memory, or a half forgotten dream. In our undisclosed location, our gracious hosts even unpacked some of our old furniture and Wilhelm's toys, so we really feel at home. And yesterday afternoon and evening, there was even a big surprise party for us, with a large number of the colorful characters who were a part of our daily life before and the whole family. Not to mention large amounts of very delicious foods.

Wow. It's kind of overwhelming, and neat to be back in this home away from home. It's different from when I came here before, it's not this prickly exciting new adventure anymore, it's a place I know better and feel far more comfortable in than my original home in many ways.

On another note, I found my 6th four leaf clover this summer yesterday in our undisclosed location. Number five was found at my parents' house the day we set off on our drive to New York. We must have used the luck of that one either for not having to unpack all of our belongings from the car at the Canadian border or for not getting shot in East Orange, NJ, while searching for our hotel, then deciding we'd better just look for something in a better neighborhood.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

New York City

That's the truth! We have been deprived of city life for too long. We drank in New York today like water for people who are dying of thirst. New York City is incredible. For whatever reason, it has the reputation of being fast, cold, harsh and unfriendly, but both times I have been here, my impression and experience has been exactly the opposite. If someone sees you looking at a map they ask nicely if they can help or if you're lost, if you've got a kid who needs a toilet, they will let you in wherever and comment "I can't blame you for not using the Burger King restrooms, they're pretty skeevy." Maybe the bad reputation is just a way of keeping people from absolutely overrunning this fantastic metropolis.

We took a great walk from Battery Park around the southern tip of Manhattan via the Esplanade, winding up in Tribeca. This frog was spotted in Rockefeller Park, just one sculpture from a jam packed little area of sculptures by Tom Otterness. For more, go here. All of the little guys around the bigger figures remind me of scenes from the animated film Fantastic Planet, in a way creepy, yet endearing.

We also went to Central Park, since I hadn't been there yet and really wanted to see it. It was way more than I expected. The landscape is just beautiful, it's full of rocks, trees, water and people people everywhere!

We also saw the Trump Tower, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (from a distance), and were in Greenwich Village, Soho, the Financial District, and the future site of the "Freedom is not free" monument, or whatever they are currently calling the former site of the World Trade Center. This trip has resulted in the decision to definitely take at least a week vacation in New York City sometime soon. Like our cab driver said tonight: "You could stay here for a month and still want to see more."

Our cab driver was full of wisdom. We mentioned that we were leaving Michigan to move back to Germany, and were just on vacation here for a couple of days, and he said "Michigan is like a ghost town. All they do there is build cars." To which I couldn't resist replying: "Not any more! Now it's just a ghost town!" This resulted in roaring laughter and 100% agreement. He also agreed that "Chicago sucks", confirming what I've heard before about New Yorkers disliking Chicago and Chicagoans disliking New York. This guy got a good tip, unlike the guy yesterday from New Jersey who was a total d!$% and did not even help lift suitcases into the trunk, just stood there with crossed arms smoking his Parliaments. Like I said when he called back wanting detailed directions to the place where he was to pick us up: "The address is XYZ, I see an exit called Fish House Road, there are no special landmarks, that's all I know. That's why I call a service to come pick me up." Why don't you have a GPS that works? And why are you driving a 300C and not a Lincoln Town Car like we ordered? You can get more luggage in a Chrysler Sebring than a 300C, that big, ugly, boxy car is a joke.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Taking leave of this place

We are on the road again, and, well, just about off the road. We dropped off the car to be shipped to a far away place and will be boarding our plane for a far away place soon. But first, here are some sights from our trip through MI, ON, NY, PA, NJ and back to NY.

This is a sight from somewhere in New York or Pennsylvania. There are just too many things about this scene that I love.

Fries Poutine. An eastern Ontario delicacy best eaten after drinking large amounts of alcohol, at least according to insiders. It consists of fresh cut french fries, warm cheese curds and beef gravy. Mmmm. I actually tried it, and in my hungry state, didn't mind it, though skeptical at first glance.

Big Turk, Canadian candy bar. Highly innappropriate by PC German standards. Very delicious by my standards. Inside German sources say it tastes like Gelee Bananen. We'll see about that when we arrive. My description: chocolate covered gummy bear in bar form. Mmmm.

Insert "don't" here. Sorry Michigan, but it's true. Some people have been known to say, and I quote: "The only good thing about Michigan is that when you leave, you know you can't be going anywhere worse."

Turtle crossing in Kingston, Ontario. On first glance, I thought: "How nice of them to think of the turtles!" Upon commenting on how I like their turtle crossing to a Kingstonian, I was told: "You don't want to hit one of those with your car! They're huge! They can do some major damage!" So I guess it's more to protect the motorists than the turtles, unlike Germany's frog crossings.