Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

The Baden Baden Christmas Angel: Christmas Markets on the Rhine

AdventureMan is low energy, recovering from a bad cold, and I have a sore throat, so we decide to spend a day relaxing on board the Inspire, and to go into Baden Baden that evening for the opening of the Christmas Market. It is a great decision. We love traveling, and at the same time we are not in control of our schedule. There is little time for rest between tours and activities and briefings about the next days activities, and meals. Lots of meals.

It is a great decision. We feel great by the time evening arrives, and head into town for the opening of the Market. We arrive just before the arrival of the Christmas Angel. We are with a more aggressive shipboard friend who manages to be both aggressive and polite, and she “excuse me’s” our way to a very close vantage point, surrounded by Baden-Badeners who are delighted we have come to participate in this special community event. They explain that the Christmas Angel always used to arrive in a horse-drawn carriage, but now arrives in a beautiful new Mercedes. Somehow, that makes me laugh. Either way, it is an odd way for an angel to arrive!

 

Well, even though we have this great view, I have to hold my camera way up above my head to get this shot, and the Christmas angel is barely visible. She also has to make a very long obligatory speech thanking every possible Baden-Badener who made the Market possible. And many school children come on stage and sing. It is a lot of fun, and it is also very cold.

 

This is one of the loveliest Christmas markets I have ever visited. It has wide aisles, and lovely merchandise, and really cool food vendors with delicious cheeses, special wines, meats, and, of course, gluewein.

Our friend was a really good sport. AdventureMan and I are remembering our young years, and the way we loved currywurst, so we talk her into joining us for dinner at the currywurst stand. This is upscale currywurst, but of course, this is Baden Baden. It is served on a china plate, with potatoes. The currywurst we remember was really just a sausage cut into slices and then sprinkled with curry powder before ketchup was squirted on. This currywurst is a more special sausage, and  there is a lot of it. It also comes with a lot of tiny little potatoes, and a kind of garlic hollandaise sauce. A little of it went a long way.

 

Above are wooden carved creches, and all the carved figures you can put inside. These were really beautiful. I wondered where they came from; you sort of picture little wizened wood-carvers in Bavaria, but I suspect they are machine made in China.

It looks like crystal, but it is all plastic! Some of the stars were faceted plastic, and sparkled, so I bought several, even though I have a wonderful collection of glass and crystal ornaments from our earlier years. I also have two destructive cats, and anything special gets hung on high from candelabras and chandeliers, but plastic stars I can stick to the windows and not worry if the cats fiddle with them. Thus, over Christmas, I have already lost two of them to falls and being batted around.

 

Moravian stars were everywhere, most made with a heavy paper.

A beautiful collection of creches, each in it’s own container, above.

Some were very modern.

One of the speciality food stores.

 

We made it around the entire market, and now it is time to find the bus to return to the boat. I am glad; it is a very cold windy night, as beautiful as it is, clear and cold, and I have lost my voice. My throat is also very sore.

 

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March 28, 2019 Posted by | Advent, Arts & Handicrafts, Cultural, Eating Out, Germany, Travel | Leave a comment

Return to Rudesheim: Christmas Markets Along the Rhine

After spending the night on board the Grace, we head out the next morning, not by boat, but by bus, for Rudesheim.

Rudesheim, as I was in high school in Germany, and later as a military wife, was a place we avoided for one simple reason. We were residents, and Rudesheim was full of tourists. Occasionally, when we had house guests who wanted to visit a quaint town, we might take them to Rudesheim, or to Bingen, across the river, but rarely – there are so many wonderful, less visited villages with fabulous wines we could visit. When we lived in Wiesbaden, we were up and down the Rhine all the time.

Now, we are relaxed and decide to just sink into the tourist role. We are also not bus tour people, but the buses are due to the historic low water levels on the Rhine. You can’t fault a cruise company for the water levels in the river after an unusually dry summer and fall. While we had some drizzle, even some small sprinkles, we never saw a heavy rain, even during this trip.

Driving along, we were shocked by what we saw:

This is what is left of the mighty Rhine near the Lorelei.


 

Arriving in Rudesheim, I took a quick shot across the river to Bingen, where we have visited many times, drinking wonderful Rhine wines, back in the day when we drank a lot of German wines :-). Now, I wish I could go visit Bingen for the honor of Hildegard of Bingen, a great musician of the church.

 

We started out in Rudesheim at the Music Museum, a collection from all over Europe of mechanical music machines gathered carefully together. What a magnificent obsession! The collector would hear a rumor of a machine, and travel to Prague, or to some small village in Germany, or wherever the rumor took him, buying old, broken machines at a good price, freighting them back to his home, restoring and repairing them until they were back in prime condition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the music museum, it was time for lunch. We have to give Tauck Tours a lot of credit. Most tourist companies contract for a “good enough” meal, and when we heard “a typical German meal” we had thought we might go off on our own, as we often do, but the idea of lunch at The Rudisheim Schloss (Castle) intrigued us. We were glad we chose to join the group; the meal was done well, starting with a carrot soup and a good traditional German salad, then a schnitzel made with good meat, accompanied by potatoes (I think) and bottles of very nice wine. At each place was also a cup, a gift of the house, in which we could have infinite refills of the Christmas gluewein, spiced wine, all day long.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We aren’t used to eating so heavily, so we skipped dessert (a gorgeous apple strudel with warm vanilla sauce) and headed for the funicular which would take us up to the Denkmal, a memorial built to honor the German dead from (a war?) (wars in general?) They gave us warm blankets to keep us warm in the little bucket we rode up in. It took about ten minutes.

Views from the flying bucket, down into Rudesheim:

 

View up the hill to the Denkmal – sorry for the flat cloudy sky.

 

We bought a few small Christmas gifts to bring back, and the shop owner asked us if we had come on a ship, and we explained “yes” – and “no.”  They were concerned with the low levels, that it would affect the crowds that normally come to the famous Christmas markets.  Fortunately, just as our trip was ending in Basel, the heavens opened, the rains fell, and the waters rose to their normal levels – and more.


 

 

In the shop below, the Poste, I found a map of the Rhine River all the way from its beginning in the mountains in Switzerland all the way to its outlet near Amsterdam. I hid it from AdventureMan, knowing it would fit in his stocking. When it came time to wrap, I couldn’t find it and figured I had already wrapped it, but it didn’t show up. It was only months later I thought to check my suitcase, and there it was. It was fun for him to get it, even so late, and he is still having fun with it.

So after wandering around, we decide to go back to the Rudisheimer Schloss and have some kaffee und kuchen, and the waitress tells us “it’s happy hour” for the desserts. She brings us this one lovely Cherry waffle, and oh, it is so yummy, we share it happily. The whipped cream is tinted green, and has pistachios sprinkled on it. We eat it all.

Then, she cheerfully puts another at our place. It would be rude, and wasteful, not to eat it, don’t you think?

We just laughed. We don’t often eat dessert, and we’ve more than walked it off already. It was totally yummy, even the second time around.

This is one of my favorite pictures. The sun is starting to set, it’s getting time to meet up with the bus taking us back to the ship, and the locals are gathering to drink a cup of gluewein and swap news. It feels like a village again.

 

 


When you take a tour, there are just things you don’t know until they happen. This time, as we leave, we board a ferry which takes us across to Bingen. Maybe Google Earth has told them that the autobahn on the Bingen side can get us back to Koln faster than the one on the Rudesheim side, down which we came in the morning.

 

I loved ending my day this way. On a darkened, quiet bus full of happy tourists who had experienced a very good day, this little Seattle girl saw this on the way back to the ship:

I was an early Amazon addict; it was just so handy. I remember the first year I was a member, they sent us all Amazon.com coffee mugs. Just once. It never happened again. I treasured that mug, until it went the way of all mugs . . .

March 27, 2019 Posted by | Advent, Arts & Handicrafts, Christmas, Cultural, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Germany, GoogleEarth, Restaurant, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Aachen – Christmas Markets on the Rhine

That this trip would go to Aachen is one of the reasons I eagerly wanted to take this trip. We visited Aachen around twenty years ago, and the minute I walked in the church, I was stunned by this candelabra:

It is huge. It is glorious. This was the church of Charlemagne, and it is a very very old church. I don’t know why it is so special to me, but I love this church. Now I can recognize all the Moorish elements; that could well be a part of its attraction to me.

Wikipedia says the Aachen cathedral was consecrated in 805 AD, and is the oldest cathedral church in Europe.

“It is claimed as one of the oldest cathedrals in Europe and was constructed by order of the emperor Charlemagne, who was buried there after his death in 814. For 595 years, from 936 to 1531, the Palatine Chapel, heart of the cathedral, was the church of coronation for thirty-one German kings and twelve queens. The church has been the mother church of the Diocese of Aachen since 1802.”

 

I knew from previous visits that you had to buy a ticket to take photos in this church. You have to find a policeman selling permits, and he puts a permit on your camera. There were a lot of people taking photos and being told they had to pay. There were signs, but they were small and not very visible. I felt sorry for the people who were scolded and told they had to pay.

 

 

 

Looking up int the dome. The black and white arches remind me of the Alhambra in Spain. So simple, so elegant.

 

Guess I really have a thing for those arches, LOL.

Outside view of the Aachen cathedral / church. What is really funny is that it looks like blue sky, and maybe, just maybe for a few minutes, it was. Mostly what I remember is a very cold day and a very chill rain, so chilly that we only wandered around the Market for maybe half an hour and then found a cozy cafe where AdventureMan could get some hot chocolate for his sore throat.

 

The Winter Specials!

Hirschsteak! (Deer steak) Gänsekeule! (Goose leg) Muscheln! (Mussels Alsatian style)

Shops full of the Aachen special spice cookies. Love the way they decorate their windows.

 

People beginning to gather for their shopping, and for drinking Gluewein with their friends.

 

I love this statue. I think it is called Greed, or The Love of Money.

Here is Didi’s Chocolate Shop where we found our tour guides, also having a hot drink and comparing notes while the tour guests shopped. I ordered Mint Tea and got a huge pot of boiling hot water and a bundle of mint leaves. It was lovely, so fresh, so fresh. AdventureMan also loved his hot chocolate.

 

When we left, we were all to gather at the tourist info stop. We were all there, and nothing was happening so a couple people went inside the tourist place, and then the guides showed up and hurried us down a street. Fortunately the people inside could see the end of the line far off down the street and hurried to catch up with us. We know they would have sent people back for them when they were discovered missing . . . or we think so. It felt like a disaster narrowly averted.

We speak the language. Still, we would not want to be left behind in a strange city and have to find some way to get back to a boat that we don’t really know exactly where it is.

March 19, 2019 Posted by | Advent, Arts & Handicrafts, Faith, Germany, Hot drinks, Photos, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

The Archaeological Museum in Cologne

We have learned to choose a few things we really want to see, and set our priorities on seeing them well. Cologne was easy in that way; the Hotel Ernst is centrally located and you can walk anywhere. It is also near the railroad station, and there are always taxis in front of the hotel.

 

We were there when it opened, and shared it with just five people for an hour 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the view of the mosaic from two flights up; you will see it closer up a few photos down.

 

 

 

 

 

I love this graphic, showing how Cologne is at one of the oldest Roman crossroads in Europe. We used to live near a “Romerstrasse” or Roman Road in Germany.

We had lunch at Peter’s Brauhaus, and then headed back to the hotel for a quick nap before time to be picked up to go to the boat.

March 17, 2019 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Cultural, Germany, Travel | , | Leave a comment

Umbrella Installation in Pensacola

This happened last year, maybe even close to a year ago. The photo makes me smile every time I see it. I admire so much those with creativity and vision, who can make an every day object into something so beautiful.

 

March 17, 2019 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Pensacola | Leave a comment

Who Knew? Intlxpatr Turns 12 Years Old

Welcome! Grab a flute, come on in and mingle.

 

Who knew, when I held my breath and posted my first post in September of 2006, that I would still be blogging – with the same blog (!) – twelve years later.

I miss my life. It’s hard to remember that it wasn’t perfect, and it wasn’t. When I started blogging in Kuwait, I was once again going up against the steep learning curve of starting over in a new place, discovering where to buy groceries (milk and dairy at the local Co-op, fresh vegetables at a huge vegetable market to the south of Fintas, western staples – a luxury – at the Sultan Center. I bought what I needed, most of the time, but occasionally, a price would be so shockingly out of line that I couldn’t bring myself to do it – like a package of chocolate chip cookies that you just cut and bake for something like $15 when I could make them from scratch by myself. But I digress.

Blogging was new and fresh, and I loved reading the thoughts of other bloggers. I learned so much, and I learned to think differently. Their thoughts were not my thoughts, and I got a very clear view of my own cultural blinders.

I also met some wonderful Kuwaitis. It was a world I loved, a world of ideas and discussions. It was fun. I quickly felt at home in Kuwait; I felt I was gaining perspective from many minds, and it helped me form a more complex picture. I laugh to think it will never be a complete picture; you know how even people you’ve known for a long time can surprise you?

AventureMan told me today I had surprised him. He was talking about how good we are at doing our homework for trips, and how we “roll with the punches.” In my very direct way, I said “No we don’t! We gripe with the punches.”

First I got a stunned silence, then the guffaw of laughter, and then we were both laughing. I love it that I can still catch him by surprise.

So welcome to the celebration of 12 years sharing lives, sharing ideas, sharing our common humanity. This year, in addition to the beautiful cakes I have so much fun enjoying in virtual world, I have added cupcakes, in honor of a five year old granddaughter who has a great eye.

 

 

 

Please stay as long as you’d like . . .

September 5, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Blogging, Civility, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Interconnected, Kuwait, Pensacola, Shopping | 10 Comments

Doha, Qatar, in Transition

I didn’t start shooting digital until 2005, so there are two years of Doha documentation I only have in prints; I was shooting film, taking it down to the shop on old Electricity Street, Karabah. I came across these tonight . . . just wish I had been able to find some shots of the old Bandar restaurants, taken down with the modernization of Doha.

What a breathtaking transition. Doha, when we arrived, was still sleepy. There were a few tall buildings in the little capitol, mostly public utilities. The airport parking was free, and the airport itself was tiny. Most people knew one another, and the expat community was small. We were in Doha from 2003 – 2006, and again from 2009 – 2010.

 

When camels still had real riders at the weekly races:

 

 

 

Souq al Waqaf

Parachute Roundabout Comes Down:

 

Making way for the new connector street from old Karaba to Souq al Waqaf:

 

Ramadan finery:

 

 

 

 

Dinner at The Majlis

 

Karabaa Mosque, now gone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 6, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Building, Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Photos, Qatar, Travel | Leave a comment

Vista House

 

You have to really want to find Vista House these days, but it is worth the effort. Two roads up there say “closed” but there is a third road, narrow and winding and seeming like you will never get there, but you do, and when you do you have a panoramic view up and down the Columbia River.

This was built to last. The ladies room is entirely marble!

 

 

 

 

 

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Building, Public Art, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum

“She shows us the same things,” you might complain, and again I say “I write this blog for myself and for the love of writing about the things I love. You are welcome, all are welcome, and if you are not happy, you are welcome to go elsewhere!”

I’ve lived an odd life, a life I would’t trade with anyone. I grew up in Alaska, on an island with a lot of native Americans as my fellow students in my little elementary school. I grew up with Alaskan art, Indian artifacts, masks, baskets, and the hand made costumes, red and black images, sparked with trimming of white shirt buttons. I went to high school in Germany, traveling far and wide with my family or with friends through that continent, visiting more than a few churches and museums, even making special trips to see an exhibit or two.

Then a big change, life in the Middle East and Africa, where I learned to see things through a very different set of eyes and experiences, but something strange started happening, as I noted the differences, I could also see amazing similarities.

I love women’s handwork. I love the nomadic textiles, often made on very narrow looms that could be mostly a couple sticks and yarn from sheep or goats you’ve raised and slaughtered, died with whatever you could get your hands on. And, oddly, the weavings and patterns from Native American baskets and weavings have a lot in common with weavings from the Middle East, West Asia (the ‘Stans) and Africa. There is a love of working with black, white and red, for example, and a similarity to the structure of the animals, even when the animals themselves differ.

If you are interested in the work women do with their hands, you never lack for conversation wherever you go. There are always groups where women are teaching one another new techniques. I’ve met wonderful, creative women in Germany and in Kuwait and in Tunisia, all finding new and innovative ways to create, and also exploring preservation of early and ancient techniques.

So this Museum, the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum was richly rewarding for both AdventureMan and myself; it was rich in history, in interviews and movies showing early salmon runs, for example, and interviews with early Native Oregonians. It was also rich in exploring the techniques of early basket making and cooking techniques, preservation of salmon by drying and salting, etc. We spent hours in this museum, and we heartily recommend that you do, too 🙂 It is also a very gorgeous museum, rich in sensory impact, unforgettable.

I will show you pictures, and every now and then I will put in a little explanation.

Below is a dugout canoe, created from one very large cedar tree trunk, carved out by hand

There were really Direwolfs? GOT didn’t make them up?

Look at the motifs on these baskets! African? Azerbaijani? Kazakh? Kuwaiti?

For grinding chestnuts into paste, then the paste is cooked into a kind of meal like oatmeal. The morter and pestle is the same in so many places.

The round cooking stones, heated in fires, dropped into the meal, fished out once they start losing their heat, washed, reheated and put in again until the meal reaches a boil, all in this tightly woven basket.


Activity in the Children’s exploration area

We love the creativity and persistence of humans who preserve our heritage and traditions for future generations. It is particularly delightful when the preservation is in a museum conceived and manifested with beautiful elements and natural materials.

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Afghanistan, Africa, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Character, Cultural, Education, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Interconnected, Public Art, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Travel, Values, Women's Issues, Work Related Issues | Leave a comment

Timberline Lodge, Government Camp, Oregon

Just as AdventureMan had a yearning to visit Crater Lake, I’ve had a longing, lo these many years, to stay at Timberline Lodge. I remember going there when I was little, maybe for lunch, maybe for a soda and for my Mom to meet up with friends, I don’t know, I was really little. All I remember is how much I loved this timbered lodge, and I told her I wanted to stay there. She said we were going back to Portland; we were just visiting the Lodge.

I’m not a believer in bucket lists. I’m a believer in doing it along the way, if you can. When AdventureMan and I married, we had a lot not-in-common, but we shared a common way of outlining and attaining our objectives in life.

  1.  Live within your income.
  2. Save for goals (retirement, education, property, etc).
  3. Have a great life along the way.

We’ve done well. When we first married, AdventureMan wanted to go to Africa and see the animals. We saved for a year and spent a month in Kenya and Tanzania before starting a family, then once we were living back overseas, we went back to various African countries on safari ten times. We worked hard, and we have a ball along the way.

But I had never had an opportunity to stay at Timberline Lodge. It’s TIME!

 

It was another case of not wanting to mention to AdventureMan that it might be a bit tricky getting up there, but although there is still a lot of snow, we didn’t have any problems on the roads. And, even though the parking lot, we are told, is full, AdventureMan, with his famous great luck, waited while I checked us in, and while he was waiting a beautiful parking spot opened up right in front of the Lodge. Woo HOOOOO!

This is our room, up on the third floor. All the beds have thick comforters and Pendleton blankets.

 

 

The view from our room is out over one of the ski trails 🙂

 

 

I am totally in heaven. A dream has come true, and we are having a lot of fun. AdventureMan asked if we should bring in our swim suits, and I looked at him like he was crazy. “It’s a SKI lodge,” I informed him, a little haughtily. Oh, Intlxpatr, woe! The registration clerk looked at me and said “We do! We have an outdoor pool down at the end of this hall” and pointed down the hall. I was humbled, and the pool was beautiful; a gorgeous contrast in hot and cold. Don’t you love the skiers skiing right by the pool?

 

We ate all our meals in the Lodge, the spaces were so beautiful. This is the downstairs lounge:

 

I am such a sucker for stone fireplaces, wood floors and leather furniture. I should live in Montana!

We ate in the Rams Head restaurant, looking out over the peak of Mount Hood:

 

I ordered the cassoulet, which, when it came, I said “I thought it had chicken in it!”

 

It did, it was hiding under the endive salad.

AdventureMan ordered the charcuterie platter, and loved every bite.

He couldn’t even finish his cheese platter, not could I finish my cassoulet, too much food and we can’t take it with us.

This is the Cascade Dining Room, where we had breakfast the next morning:

 

This trip has had so many highlights, and we both agree that staying at Timberline Lodge is a life-high experience. 🙂

When talking with my Mom, she said back in the day, she and a bunch of friends from university would head over to Timberline Lodge for the weekends, and that they stayed in large bunk-room dorms, because it was all about the skiing. 🙂

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Cultural, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Hotels, Money Management, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | Leave a comment