Archive for the ‘Germany’ Category

My Room

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

We are aboard the Riverboat Harmony, sailing up the Rhine River in western Germany. We started in Switzerland (Basel), then Alsace in France, and now Heidelberg!

Thought I would show your our room #325. Everything we brought is nicely tucked away and our bathroom has a 4’x4′ shower with handheld shower head. We have a desk, and central table where we find our daily activities for the next day.

Our beds are turned down with a chocolate on the pillow each night.

There are about 140 passengers and 40 crew, 3 cruise directors, live music, a gourmet kitchen and too many fun things to mention. Talk about spoiled!!!


Let Advent Begin!

Saturday, November 29th, 2014



All the anticipation has been worth it.

The “Christkirdelmarik”, or Christmas/Advent markets are finally open.

The mayor or dignitary plugs in the towering Christmas tree, the oompah bands play, and the little kiosks are open to selling their handicrafts, warm drinks, chestnuts, bratwursts and just about anything you can think of. Add a ton of evergreens, twinkle lights and sweet smells and you have the recipe that inspires one to be a little kid again.

Two years ago I gave to a local thrift shop all my holiday decorations. It was very freeing. And because of my store, and all the decorating it demanded, my family gave me grace, and I haven’t put up a tree for almost 15 years! NO I am not a Grinch.

All my holidays were consumed by the flower shop and all the church music I was responsible for as organist and choir director.

This year I am decorating for Christmas in my heart by filling all my senses with the sparkle and delight of the coming of the Christ child. I have seen two markets and each was different. THE oldest one since 1570 and rated #1 is in Strasbourg. Two more days!!!

This is a once in a life time experience and I’m loving it!!

On Base

Monday, November 24th, 2014

We are in Garmish, Germany this week staying at an Army complex. It is at the base of the Alps and is something out of a fairy tale. The Marshal Center; European Center for Security Studies is a big part of what goes on here. It is very impressive as they bring in security personnel from countries all over the world to put their heads together and come up with ideas to make this a safer planet. Next week’s class will have representatives from 46 different countries.

The U.S. spearheads this and provides the accommodations, teachers, classrooms etc. One of the questions they will be tackling next week is how does a country deal with the issue of a citizen who goes to Syria for ‘training’ and then wants re-admittance to their own country? They haven’t committed a crime…yet. We have met several fine people who work for this outfit and it’s people helping people stay safe.

We enjoy being able to take advantage of the military benefits Steve has earned.  We can live  on base (when room is available), shop, eat. Everything is in English and in dollars no matter what country the base  is in. While here, we both got our hair done, enjoyed fellowship at the base chapel, and used the library. We have a suite with maid service, a nearby cafeteria, and bus service just outside the gate.

Security is very tight with guards and spotlights and dogs, so you better have your I.D. ready.


Advent Anticipation

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

DSC03226Where the United States starts selling Christmas the middle of October and our special holidays have started running into ‘happythanksmas’, here in Europe (or at least in Austria and Germany) no bulb is lit before it’s time.

Advent is the big build up to Christmas, St. Stephens Day, and 12th Night.

I find it exciting that windows are draped to prevent their seasonal decor from being viewed. Crews are hanging huge light displays across pedestrian malls and city streets but NOT turning them on.

There is a build up that is generating enthusiasm as the stalls for the Christmas markets are being built and decorated. Add to that the crisp air, the fragrances of mulled spices, music everywhere,  and drums of fire roasting chestnuts that are already in place and you have a recipe for a Merry Christmas!


Monday, November 10th, 2014

What would you do if you found that ordering the beer on the menu was cheaper than ordering the water?

Yep that’s my latest dilemma here in Prague, Cz.

Where as Belgium makes the most types of beer, and Germany makes the most quantity of beer, it’s the Czechs that consume the most beer. Each Czech (of all ages) consumes 1.5 liter of beer per day!

And it all started in the neighborhood of Plzen, where making the yellow fizzy stuff spread worldwide. A popular brand here is Budweiser. The Czechs say they had the name first. Many lawyers later, the Czech brand can be sold in Europe, China, and Africa, but in America it’s sold as “Czechvar”.

Only one brand is sold at any one pub, and it’s not common to bar hope. They relate it to being faithful to one woman.

And I’m too cheap, I drink the beer!



Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

DSC02998There’s nothing like visiting a cathedral or basilica and being moved by the art and dedication of the faithful who built and worshiped for centuries. It is a faith-moment to be part of worship with a quick prayer or lighting a candle or just sitting a while and absorbing the sacrifice that went before.

But I find it jarring when I gaze on some altars or venture into a little chapel and have a skull staring back at me. And it’s not just skulls, it’s all sorts of body parts.

I gazed on St. Anthony’s tongue in Padua and St. Catherine’s tibia in Sienna, and entire skeletons of lesser saints all over Italy and Germany.

These are ‘relics; a portion of the body of a deceased saint that is venerated, are even dressed in gold and precious gems in some instances. They are encased in glass coffins and display cases and displayed prominently.

I guess at one time the Catholic Church in Rome had (or still has) quite a cache of these tidbits to bestow upon churches as reward or to gain favor. Here in Munich the chief congregation was gifted with more relics than anywhere else in Europe because they, at one time, were the anti-reformation leaders . Rome battled fiercely against Luther and his followers and if a congregation was given a relic, it would inspire wavering believers to feel special and keep their allegiance to their Catholic Church.

The Dome Church Frauenkirche here in downtown Munich, is the home church of Pope Benedict. He served here many years before being called to Rome. I wonder how he feels about relics, there might be a glass box here for him someday?

Where Next???

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

We have 3 days to figure out where to spend the next 3 weeks,and we need suggestions!

We drop off our car in Munich next week and are footloose until we have to be in Basel, Switzerland on the 27th of nov.

We were mulling over Prague, Budapest, Vienna, Mittenwald????

We will be on trains and toting our bags.

Any and all suggestions would be appreciated. Tell us YOUR experiences!

When in Germany!

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

DSC02371The Oktoberfest is a celebration of a marriage that took place long ago (Hapsburg I believe) and was such a success, that they still celebrate it today.

It begins the third Saturday in Sept. and goes until the first Sunday in October. A mere two weeks for 6 million people to flood into Munich.

They ALL wear their native dress and arrive super early for a beer that can’t be served until the Mayor taps the first keg at 11a.m. But you have to do that in order to get a seat in one of the huge beer halls (like 6-10,000 folk in each!)

The waitress’ have arms of steel as they carry 10-12 steins at a time, then get back in line to get another batch. The food is brats and sauerkraut and of course PRETZELS.

It takes place on a huge fairgrounds with all the rides and carnival games and carnival food. Everyone mingles, and enjoys the Umpah bands. It was a great time! (no entry fee, just $10 a beer)

Practice, Practice, Practice

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

We are on the eve of the opening day of the Oktoberfest! Tho’ it had never been on my bucket list, when the planets and the calendar, and the precious moments align, then you just gotta do it!

I am not a beer drinker, but I’m an eager student. My beverage of choice still isn’t hard-core as I order a Radler (beer and lemonade). It suits me just fine. It is also a fine drink to build up wrist muscles…those steins weigh a ton. I am more concerned about knocking out my front teeth with it.



Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Having lunch at Löwenbräu