Welcome to our life!

Hi, I'm Allison! I'm a thirtysomething, freshly baked, stay-at-home mom. I'm originally from Connecticut, now living in Germany, hence the name of the blog. I live in southern Germany with my German husband and our baby boy. Life has turned out to be nothing I ever expected, and am so incredibly happy with it! We certainly do have a lot of laughs! I hope you will enjoy following our new experiences raising a little half American/ half German in a little German town.

Sonntag, 30. März 2008

Our final day

One week ago today, we were enjoying our final hours in paradise. Since moving to Germany, I have learned the value of leaving your vacation destination, usually home, as late as possible. The later your departure, the more time you have to delay actually leaving. It doesn't matter if you get back home late at night. So, we were completely pleased that our flight out was at 8:00 pm, giving us the entire day to soak in all we could of Mallorca. Plus, since it is a relatively small island, you're never too far away from the airport :)

After checking out of the hotel, we headed back towards the mountains, because we could clearly see beautiful, clear blue skies on the other side of the mountains. In Palma, the day started quite grey and cloudy. Joern's one goal was to spend as much time in the sun as possible, especially since the enitre week we were gone, it was snowing and cloudy in Germany.

The fun thing about renting a car at a vacation destination is the ability to freely explore. As we drove towards the clear skies, we saw a sign that pointed in the direction of the sun, and a town named Port des Canonge. Having previously driven around Mallorca, we knew exactly what lay ahead of us, turning down a street towards a port town from somewhat high up in the mountains: the road ahead would be extremely narrow and winding, slightly frightening, and come out somewhere beautiful. We were able to walk down to a tiny, rocky beach. It was by no means a tourist beach, lined with rowboats and small sheds in which some people were working on small boats and fishing tools. We walked down to the beach though, it was quite beautiful. The sea was pretty rough, as there was a storm on it's way in, but the crashing waves were wonderful to watch.
We also walked up the hill and out to a cliff that overlooked the sea. Again, the view was incredible. After enjoying the lovely views from Port des Canonge, we headed back up the mountain, back up the crazy road, and breathed a sigh of relief when we were back on the main road.

We continued to drive through the mountains, and found ourselves in the georgeous town of Banyalbufar. It is definately a favorite of mine. The town is quite old, and served as an
agricultural center. It is such an amazingly beautiful town with terraced hills that look out to the sea. The streets of the town are narrow, and the houses, old stone homes. I was particularly entralled with the citrus groves and the sheep :)
We only stayed in Banyalbufar for a short time, before heading out again to Estellencs, a tiny town of about 300 inhabitants. We had a lovely and leisurely lunch in Estellencs, in an Italian restaurant. The food was good and the view, incredible!
We headed back to Palma, getting into the city at 5:00 in the evening. We wanted to be at the airport by 6:00 because we had to return the rental car. Joern and I decided we would spend our final 50 minutes in Mallorca enjoying a coffee in a wonderful cafe at the far end of the harbor. We enjoyed the views of the water and the cathedral, and our last Spanish cappuchino for a few months :(

The flight back was uneventful, which is always the best kind of flight. We got back to our apartment at 11:00 pm, glad that in Germany, Easter Moday is a holiday.

The trip overall was incredible, and I can't wait to go back to Mallorca, the island of a thousand faces. Next trip though will be in the summer, because I can't wait to swim in the crystal clear water and lay on the soft, sandy beach!

Samstag, 29. März 2008

Holy Saturday in Mallorca

One week ago today we were beginning the bittersweet goodbye to Mallorca. It was our last full day and night on the island, and we were excited to have lots of time, because we had seen everything we wanted to see and a lot more!
Since it was a bit cloudy, we decided against spending time at the beach. We had been to the beach earlier in the week though, and already have plans on returning in the summer.
We decided instead to return to Palma for some last minute shopping in some stores I had seen, but hadn't gone into.
A gourmet food and pastry shop in Palma.
One of the places I was dying to check out was the Chocolat Factory, a gourmet chocolatier out of Barcelona. Aahhh, it was incredible! We purchased the most wonderful hot chocolate mix I have ever tasted, as well as some beautiful and delicious chocolates. No worries, next trip I will bring home some Chocolat Factory souveniersWe enjoyed a lovely cappuccino at the top of the Passeig des Born, a main shopping thoroughfare in the city. One of the things I have learned from Joern is the art of "slow travel," enjoying a coffee and people-watching is one of our favorite travel activities! I love the cafe culture of Europe!

An example of the architecture in Palma.
Once we felt comfortable having watched the Mallorquin world go by, we headed back down to the harbor of Palma to drool over some yachts and play the dreaming game.

We headed out to Port d'Andratx again (see Monday's post) to say "see you later" to one of our favorite, yet all too rich and slightly snobby places on the island. We enjoyed a light lunch and the beautiful views of the little harbor.

We went grocery shopping in the evening. Another reason why Mallorca is liveable, they have normal GIGANTIC grocery stores! We bought wonderful treats to help us deal with the travel sadness that comes with returning home after an incredible vacation. We also bought food for dinner. I know, it sounds pretty cheap to buy food at a grocery store for dinner when you're on vacation, but really, it was perfect! Dinner, starting clockwise from Joern's "40", olives (in our new olive dish,) delicious bread, Mallorquin sobresada (paprika sausage), salami, assorted cheeses from the Balearic Islands, Spanish "Orangina" and Joern's favorite, aioli.

After dinner, we went out for a drink in the shamefully German party area. Okay, off-season, it really isn't too bad. The German party area on Mallorca really consists of a section of the beautiful, sandy Platja de Palma (beach) and one street, the Schinkenstrasse (Ham Street.) The beach hut provides plenty of drinks to thirsty sunbathers, and the party continues there long into the night, at such bars at the Bier Koenig (Beer King,) the Oberbayern (a famous bar in Germany) and the Mega Park/Mega Arena. We enjoy the Mega Arena because it reminds us of a German in Spain Disneyland. And while it ruffles every one of my travel feathers, it is good for a laugh. It was a fun way to spend our last night in Mallorca.

Freitag, 28. März 2008

One week ago today, and yesterday, and the day before...

Before time really gets away from me, I will smush a few days of our trip into this post

One week ago from this past Wednesday, my morning started wonderfully with an amazing Mallorquin breakfast. Out hotel breakfast buffet included an entire table of specialties from the island, as well as the other three Belearic Islands, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera.
Besides the delicious oranges, on the plate: (moving clockwise from the roll)
tomato slices, olives, pate, Menorcan cheese, sausage, and sobresada (a paprika spiked sausage next to the roll)

After that yummy breakfast, and getting ready, we got in the car and headed east to Manacor. Manacor is best known as the world headquarters of Majorica Pearls, the only recognized brand of immitation pearl in the world. I've been thinkng lately about a strand of pearls, and while not willing to shell out thousands for a strand of Mikimotos, I decided that Majorica would be a good start. We were a little disappointed with the "museum" that was actually a few tables set up around the showroom that simulated how Majorica pearls are made. The showroom instead was pretty large. Best though, was the lovely necklace that I brought home with me :)

From the pearl factory, we headed northeast to Arta, an extremely old town that shows evidence of both Roman and Muslim influence. We drove through the town and then explored the Sanctuary of San Salvador.

looking down on the town of Arta from the Sanctuary of San Salvador

Our time at San Salvador was both peaceful and beautiful. Despite the chilly weather, we explored for quite a long time, and only made our way back to the car when a few rain drops started to fall. The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring Canyamel and Cala Rajada, mainly in the car due to the rain.

One week ago yesterday, we took needed break from the car, and spent quite a bit of time enjoying the sun and exploring the main city of the island, Palma. The city is quite charming, and is one of the reasons I find Mallorca to be an island that is "liveable". It was an especially exciting time to be in the city, as the king of Spain and his family, celebrate Easter in Palma. The city was abuzz with preparations to provide the royal family with a lovely stay. One of the most outstanding buildings in the city is the cathedral, or La Seu. It was so cool to think that King Juan Carlos and his family would be sitting in the same building we stood before. I was completely intrigued and convinced Joern to go into the cathedral. It did not disappoint. Of special significance to me was the amazing stained glass and the interior design by famed Spanish architect, Antonio Gaudi. The cathedral was absolutely breathtaking from the inside, just the size alone was awesome. I found the altar completely fascinating, espeically the gigantic chandalier above the altar, Gaudi designed to represent the crown of thorns.

We spent some more time meandering up and down the hilly streets. It was such an enjoyable day.

Surprisingly, Joern decided to take me back to one of my favorite towns, Valldemosa after our time in Palma. Valldemosa is nestled in the Tramuntana Mountains. Michael Douglas owns a finca here, and once you go to Valldemosa, it is quite simple to see what attracted him to this incredible heaven.
We walked to the outskirts of the town, and then back to the shops in the center, where I purchased some lovely painted tiles that spell out our last name.

We returned to the Palma harbor in the evening, to watch the sunset, and the lights illuminate the cathedral. Palma at night is a magical place!

One week ago today, we decided to take a scenic drive, as most shops were closed for Good Friday. We headed to the northernmost point of the island, Formentor. On the way, we stopped to spend some time in Puerto Pollenca, a pleasant little port town.

Following our time in Puerto Pollenca, we made our way first to the Platja de Formentor (Formentor Beach) that serves the public and guests one of the island's most exclusive hotels, the Hotel Formentor. We walked along the beach for a while, and enjoyed the stunning views and staring into the incredible blues of the clear water.

From the beauty of the beach, we made our way out along the peninsula of Formentor. The drive out is absolutely glorious, albeit slightly frightening along the at-times extremely narrow and sometimes unprotected cliff edge roads.

The pinacle of the drive is the Cap de Formentor, high on a cliff that is topped by a large lighthouse. Standing at this point, with the strong winds hitting the island, and the sea roaring over 300 meters below is quite a moving experience. To me, it is a place I feel to be spiritual, as you stand there, you understand that we are just a small part of a much larger whole. It was a perfect day!

Donnerstag, 27. März 2008

In loving memory

4 years ago, our hearts were forever changed by one warm, fuzzy little rabbit, who was named Leo. As a baby, Leo lived the classroom in which I was working. It is not hard to guess that he became somewhat of an attraction in a middle school.
As a baby, Leo spent most of his time sitting on the top of his wooden house, which is why some people started to call him "Snoopy." Everyone who met him immediately fell in love with his floppy ears and laid back personality. He could sense when people were upset, and would immeditely hop to them, and petting him would calm even the most troubled mind. It was this special sense that left us all misty eyed at work, when we would recall how easily a little floppy eared rabbit could defuse a situation.
When I first brought Leo home, Joern was quite skeptical. He did not think that a rabbit had any place in our apartment. Leo won Joern over pretty easily though, and soon it was obvious that he was moving from classroom rabbit to our pet.
We overtook sole care of Leo almost 2 years ago. In those 2 years, he really enriched our home. Whether he was sitting on the bathroom scale or jumping in our refrigerator, he made sure that we laughed every day. His warm presence was soothing at the end of a difficult day, and he made good days even better.
Sadly, Leo passed on yesterday. He had been battling some infections for quite some time, and unfortunately, lost his battle. Although we are saddened by his loss, we will never forget the love he gave, and the special impact he made on so many lives.

Dienstag, 25. März 2008

One week ago today...

One week ago today, we made our way to the northwest interior of the island. The ride was amazing. I always find it so incredible that in 15 minutes, you can travel from a packed touristy beach to a sweeping mountainy wilderness, and just beyond that, you can stand on top of a sea cliff and stare into the vastness of the Mediterranean Sea.

As we wound our way through streets that meandered through the mountains, the first thing I noticed were the many orange and lemon groves! Growing up in CT, you have an idea that citrus fruits come from trees, but really, they're more of a grocery store item. I can't believe how beautiful it is to see an orange grove. The oranges and lemons brought such a sweet, happy color to the dark green of the leaves of the many trees.
We finally made our way to Soller, a village that lies in a valley along with two other very small village, Fornalutx and Biniaraix.
Soller was such a charming village. The streets were delightfully narrow, and the center was highlighted by a government building, a church, and a square lined with cafes.

We laughed at the sign at the beginning of the street that said Centre Commericial, as our view of a commercial center lands in a mall, not a street lined with small shops, and wonderful panderias. In typical Jörn travel fashion, we made our way to the center, and grabbed a perfect seat at a cafe, sipped cappuccinos and people watched for an extended period.

Our next destination following the village of Soller, was the Port of Soller, about 3 km away. Typical to the island, we were quickly out of the mountains, and in a wonderfully magical little port town. In Port Soller, the beach, then make our way to the shops and restaurants along the water. We had a delicious lunch overlooking the harbor.
As we left, we chose another mountain road instead of the highway back to our hotel. Once again, you rarely go wrong with the road less traveled. The view from high above the port was simply incredible!
Another highlight of Tuesday was Casa Gonzalo, a typical Mallorquin grill restaurant. Jörn fell in love with the restaurant at first sight. It was to be the beginning of a beauiful relationship, Jörn and Casa Gonzolo. But, I will hold the rest of that story for another time :)

Seven days later (today) we woke up to lots of snow. Actually, the most snow we've had all winter! I had to return to work all bundled up, I even got to wear a hat I had purchased over Christmas and never had the opportunity to wear. I have to say though, looking back through the pictures of last week Tuesday makes me long to be where we were "one week ago".

Montag, 24. März 2008

Our lovely, wonderful spring break in Mallorca

Since we sadly did not have internet access while on our trip last week, I have decided to post about the trip in daily updates that all start with, "One week ago today" The series will begin today, and end sadly, on Sunday :( But for now, I hope you enjoy!

One week ago today, we were looking forward to an incredible 7 days on one incredible little island, Mallorca. This trip was our third trip to the island, and already, on our first full day, we found no disappointments.
Let me start by saying that our flight on Sunday (the 16th) was great. We flew with Tuifly, one of Germany's largest travel companies. The flight was an hour and a half, which amazes me, how quickly one can travel from Germany to paradise. We picked up our rental car easily, and drove to our hotel.

During our past two trips, we stayed in the Hotel Leo, a three star hotel in C'an Pastilla, a lovely, quiet area near to our current hotel location. The hotel was fine, but well, not that special. Last year, when we saw Wolfgang and Hildegard's hotel, we decided we were shortchanging ourselves with the Leo. This year, we stayed in the German party area, Playa de Palma. My decision was based on the deal we could get with a better hotel. Honestly, our location wasn't bad at all. We stayed at a Riu property, the Riu Festival. It was a nice upgrade from our former hotel, but I think we will stay somewhere else next time. We didn't have a sea view, and if we don't have a sea view, I want it to be because we are in the mountains, not up the street from the beach.
But overall, the hotel was nice, good breakfast, indoor and outdoor pools, and a comfy, clean room.

On Monday, we made our way out and drove southwest to Joern's favorite spot, Port d'Andratx. First, we stopped in Genova, a small village right outside Palma. The village is high up in the hills, and looks down onto Palma and the Palma Harbor.
The port village is adorable, lined with cafes and shops. And the harbor is full of really huge boats. Andratx the town is the richest town on the island. It is home to many prominent people, including Claudia Schiffer and German record producer, Dieter Bohlen. We do find the houses amazing, but what draws us the most is the wonderful port. We spent quite some time just sitting at a cafe enjoying the views, the sun, and the atmosphere.

We then made our way to Magallauf, traditionally known as the English party place. Joern loves going there, to observe the English culture. Magalluf is lined with British pubs, and the small take away restaurants feature fish & chips, curries, and a variety of other traditionally English foods. While I tend to shy away from places like this, also the German party area on the island, Joern really enjoys it.

Since it was St. Patrick's Day, we made our way to an Irish pub for dinner. There is no shortage of Irish pubs all over the island, so we found one in Palma named Hogans, that looked great. Oddly enough, they served American, not Irish food. So, my St. Patrick's Day this year was celebrated in an Irish pub in Spain, where we heard a band that only played a few Irish songs, and we ate buffalo chicken wings, chicken fingers, and split a blue cheese burger! The life of an expat can be quite unexpected at times!

I hope everyone who reads this blog had a wonderful St. Patrick's Day last week. I also hope that today, Easter Monday, brings you happiness whether you have a holiday today or are back at work.