Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Soul Sisters and Drunk Marionettes

Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013

Today was most likely our last day visiting Augsburg.  Tomorrow is the final stages of packing up our German life, then Friday is when we fly home!

Lainie had a special surprise.  Anne found out on Monday that she could take the day off to spend with Lainie.  She picked her up in the morning and they headed out for a day of shopping and just being together!
Here they are by Ursula's cute!  Sorry Anne, I caught you with your eyes closed!
Lainie was so excited to spend the day with Anne.  When Anne stayed with us, she and Lainie shared a room. They had many late nights, talking about stuff.  It was like a long term sleepover!  I keep saying it, but they are sisters at heart!!

Lea and I had the car since we were meeting up with Ursula later.  So we went to the bakery.
These bunny pretzels were SO good!!
Karen stopped by, surprising me with a birthday gift.  :)  I like gifts :)

I invited Karen to come with us.  Her and Ursula are friends anyway!  It worked out great!  We picked up Ursula from work and she wanted to show us the Puppenkiste.  This means puppet box: it's a marionette museum.  Augsburg was home to a famous dude (maybe more than one!) who made these and they were stars in a TV show in the 70s.  I hope I have this right...I didn't read most of the displays, just looked at the puppets!  It was a cool museum and we had fun.  I FORGOT MY CAMERA though. Can you even believe that?  My phone doesn't take very good pics, but here are a few anyway!
OK this pic turned out pretty good!  This was a dude that they said was on Sesame Street.  I don't know if it was an American one or a German one?  Cute guy, either way!

Aw a cute little snail!
Lea loved this scene!  It was a bunch of drunk marionettes, falling down.  
After the museum, we walked a block or so over to a cafe that is run by people with special needs!  It was very cool.  I had Maultaschen which is a kind of ravioli.  Delish!!!
It was a cute little place. Ursula said they have a nice garden in the summer, too.  There were 2 dogs in there, by the way!  A giant Golden Retriever and a rather large longhaired Dachshund!

Grammy and Grampy spent Tuesday night down in the Alps in Oberammergau, one of our favorite places on earth!  They came home today.  They had a great time!  They loved the town as much as we do.  They also visited Linderhof Palace which is pretty cool.  I spent much of the time they were gone getting packed.  Only 2 more sleeps!  Then I will happy to be home!  And sad to be without Brad.  Just can't win!

We had a good dinner and even better dessert.  Yummy treats from the bakery this morning.  Lainie made it home in time for dinner.  She had a great time shopping with Anne and came home with some cute new boots!  Well, secondhand boots.  But new to her!  Anne messaged me some cute pics of Lainie trying on a Dirndl, which is a traditional Bavarian dress.  I can't get them off my phone and onto here!  If I figure it out, I will add them :)

G&G went to bed at 8.  I guess they will be ready for their flight tomorrow!

Tomorrow...our last full day in Germany.  A day of more goodbyes.  I know I keep mentioning this, but hey, it's my blog and I'll cry if I want to!  It's so bittersweet!  I truly love these friends we have here.  I won't see them for so very long.  I won't see Brad for a whole month!  OMGosh!  That is the hardest.  I get to see my puppies!  I get to see my Mommy!  (and my Daddy, but let's face it...we all know my Mommy is the best.)  Back to the kids' familiar routines.  Back to my friends whom I also love!  I don't know whether to laugh or cry.  So I literally keep doing both!

KUKA Tour and Swiss Cheese

Monday, Feb. 25, 2013

Today we went to pick up a few groceries.  Since stores close for the weekend at 8pm Saturday night, we needed some stuff!

Grammy and Grampy went and looked around Augsburg a bit.

We had plans at about 4pm to tour the KUKA facility where they build the robots.  Brad works at another location so this would be new.  Soeren, our official tour guide, was unable to give us the tour at the last minute.  So Brad called his colleague and friend Markus who stepped in.  We were (unfortunately!!!) unable to take photos.  I guess they don't want their secrets leaked out, LOL!  But it was very interesting and a cool thing to see.  I was expecting a more "Motor City" type of plant.  But it's quite small, not very loud (although I believe it was 2nd shift and not staffed fully) and all done by people.  I literally thought there would be robots building the robots.  (Hey, it's a valid expectation!)  I do wish we could have taken pics.  The only one I took was outside, after Soeren met up with us to finish our tour.
No hats today, Boys?
Lainie got picked up later by Anja and they went to the movies to see Warm Bodies.  I really want to see it but we had dinner plans!  Lainie stayed the night there and went to Antonia's Kindergarten in the morning.  In Germany, Kindergarten is preschool.  Lainie had a great time reading books in English to the little ones!!

The rest of us met back up with Markus and his wife Manuela (Manu for short) at their apartment.  Manu is a hotel manager and their apartment is inside the hotel.  They were having us over for Raclette!  Remember Raclette?  We did it the German way on New Year's Eve with the Schaefer's.  Here is a flashback:
You can grill stuff on top.  See the little pans?  You put ham, veggies, potatoes, whatever in there, then top with cheese.  Then put the pan under the broiler thing and it melts.  Delish!
Now this way, above, is the German way to do Raclette.  The Hirschmann's prefer the "real" way, the Swiss way!
A giant block of cheese being grilled from the top!
So here is the original Swiss way.  You take this block of Raclette cheese and secure it in that base.  The top black part has a heating element in it.  The cheese gets bubbly and brown, then you scrape it off onto the plate.

OK I gotta tell ya, the cheese, especially when warming, smelled SO DISGUSTING!!  I did not like it at all.  AT ALL!!  But it didn't taste very strong and was really good!  Funny!

So you have your ploop of melty cheese and then you add to it whatever you want: they had ham, bacon and onion bits, mushrooms and peppers.  Plus bread and potatoes.
Quite a spread!
It was really good!  Which one do I prefer?  I will never tell.  They were both very fun and very tasty!
I want some Raclette!
 Their doggie, Boots, was VERY excited to see us :)

In 2011, Markus and Manu took a 6 month sabbatical from their jobs to help their friends build a resort in Mozambique!  How jungle-rific!!  They showed us a slide show of their time there.  Very beautiful and exotic!  It was a great evening.  We missed Lainie, but she had fun with Anja!

Good times, Good times :)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Happy Birthday To Me!!

Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013

So here it is: my 44th birthday!  Over here in Germany, when your age has the same digit twice, is some kind of Schnapp's birthday or something.  I didn't have any...Schnapp's is NOT what you North Americans think it is!  It is the strongest, nastiest, fire-breathingest stuff you have ever tasted!  I skipped it :)

Unfortunately for me, I had the hugest headache.  Why on my birthday?  I don't recall having any huge headaches over here at all.  Figures.  Then I cut my finger with a sharp knife.  *heavy sigh*  Well, it can only get better from here!

I took some medicine and tried really hard to feel better.  We went to go look in our local theater, called the Kurhaus.  It is open for viewing now (Thanks for the tip, Johanna!!)  It is right here in our little town of Goeggingen.  We walked around it back in December, but now we can explore the inside!
You walk through one of two long hallways to get in...there is a cozy bar on each  side

And this is still just the hallway!

Now we are going in!

Wow, it's gorgeous!!  So bright and beautiful!
Lea on stage

Looking up at the ceiling

There was not a soul in sight!  Germans are so trusting and nice.  We wandered all around!  It was built about 1886, so it's almost brand new in German times!

View from the balcony

A young starlet coming down the stairs

Another young starlet!


A tiny model of the theater

 So as we were going back to the car, we saw this photographer's shop.  The front and sides are covered with sweet family pictures.  And look closely at the other one:
Oh Germany, LOL!

We came home and I took a very long nap in an attempt to rid myself of this headache.  It didn't work :(
We had plans to visit Maria and Thomas at their house, but I was really not feeling well so we had to cancel.

Brad took G&G to the Fuggerei (The old social settlement).  It's so nice there.  He didn't have the car keys (our car starts by remote) and it still let him drive all the way there.  But then he had to take a cab back home to get the keys!  Ha ha!  He missed part of the tour, but that is ok.

Much later we went out for dinner.  Back in the city center to Weissen Hasen.  It is so delicious!
Lainie had Maultaschen...giant ravioli filled with spinach and cheese, then fried.  YUM

I had the Linsenspaetzle which is Spaetzle with a lentil soup-ish thing and a hot dog wrapped in bacon!  It was good, but Udo's is much better.

Grammy had the roast pork, Blaukraut and potato dumplings.  
Brad and Grampy had a pork dish that I already posted before :)  Lea had a good ole cheeseburger and fries!

In a store!  A pile of Smurfs playing in the snow!
I used to love Smurfs as a kid, so this topped off my birthday just right!  I mean, look how cute they are?  I sold my collection on ebay a few years back for a LOT of money :)

We came back and Lainie and I caught up on some of our shows: Modern Family and Survivor.  Then off to bed!  Other than the headache and the cut finger, it was a fabulous birthday!  It was nice to receive so many greetings via Facebook, too.  A great day!

Going Away Party #2

Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013

Today Grammy and Grampy went to a super old and cool city, Ulm.  It's about an hour away.  It is the birthplace of Einstein and home to the worlds' tallest church spire!  We have been there during other visits to Germany.  We had some shopping to do so we stayed back.

We went to IKEA which is, of course, a wonderful place.  We shopped and had lunch there.  Brad even had a beer!  We don't see that back home!
We went to the Erath's house for our 2nd party.  (Where else?)  Tonight's attendees were The Millers (Anne's family...Ursula, Anton and Jakob and Anne's boyfriend (!) Chris) and the Papsdorfs (Anja, Soeren and Antonia) and the Danz family (Maria, Thomas and Max).  Maria used to work for KUKA USA and they moved back to Germany 3 or 4 years ago, they couldn't agree :)  They since had a baby!

It was great to see Anne and family again.
Max was flirting with Anne, right in front of Chris!  ;)
Since tomorrow is my birthday, I got a couple of gifts :)  Anne, how is that bread?  LOL!!
Grammy and Ursula

Aw, Max is all bundled up!

I guess Lea missed Thomas!!
Private concert

Anne with Chris and her Dad, Anton

Ursula and Karen, friends for years!
Wii Sing

Aw <3  Lea kept hugging Anne

We miss our Anne!!
Now the concert has pianists!

Me-n-Anja.  Aren't we cute?  Yes, we are!

LOL!  Karen put hats on Soeren and Brad!  Brad saw Soeren's and thought he was wearing a cowboy hat, too.  He didn't get our YMCA jokes until he took the hat off!

Antonia is multi-talented.  Now she is playing the tambourine!

Rock stars.
Christoph, Jakob, Anne and Lainie playing Just Dance

Hiawatha.  LOL!!!!

Anne's family (hopefully) enjoying the music!
Anne with her parents and Chris.  He didn't smile in the pics, but he was very funny and happy!  (Who wouldn't be happy with Anne?)  We will miss this entire family SO MUCH!!!
So it was time to go.  "I am not going to cry.  I am NOT going to cry."  This is what I said.  I managed to just get a little teary when saying goodbye to Ursula.  But then Anne and Lainie were clinging to each other, crying.  It reminded me of their goodbye back in Michigan, and reminded me that they won't see each other for awhile.  So then I cried.  Udo was kind enough to hand out scratchy paper towels to dry our eyes.  Then Karen was kind enough to replace them with Kleenex!

Good news came on Monday: Anne is taking the day off on Wednesday to spend the day with her "little sister," Lainie.  So they will have to say goodbye again, but they get to be together for a whole day!!

Man, these goodbyes are so hard.  It's so bittersweet...saying goodbye to all these amazing people over here!  But then we get to go home to some different amazing people.  It's an emotional roller coaster, and it makes me tired.

Do NOT get me started on saying goodbye to the Eraths.  I am trying to formulate a plan where I get really dehydrated so I can't cry when it happens.