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.

Montag, 25. Mai 2009

Munich Day 2

I guess I should just start posting again with our second day in Munich, obviously a ton of time has passed, but I will just catch up chronologically.
After a great breakfast, and a not-too-good night's sleep, we were on our way at 9:30. Joern and Marcel had a ways to go to get to their 7 Series group meeting. So, Joern dropped me off at the main train station and they went on their way.
Because you just can't break me of some habits, I made my obligatory stop:

With my vanilla late in hand, I headed out to the Deutsches Museum One of the great things about German cities is public transportation. The U Bahn (subway system,) was so easy to navigate, clean, and brought me so very close to the museum.
The neighborhood around the museum is really lovely, it lies along the Isar, a major river in Munich. I really enjoyed the peaceful surroundings as I made my way to the museum.

The museum is gigantic! It is the world's largest science and technology museum, and is definately a boy's dream! I started off in the maritme exhibit hall. They had such interesting exibits, including an entire submarine,

and a very interesting recreation of a passenger ship from the 1800s. What especially drew me in was the segment that showed life on a ship for emigrants to the US. That could have been my family!
After the maritime exhibition hall, I headed to the aeronautics wing. My friend Emily, who lives in Munich, posted that the museum has a cross section of a Lufthansa passenger airplane, so I was intrigued. Of course, the aeronautics wing includes much more than simply the cross-section, they had a large mixture of both military and civilian aircraft. I was surprised how interesting I found this area!

From here, I headed to the paper and printing sections. Again, extraordinarily interesting. The paper exhibit included a Chinese costume made entirely from paper, as well as showcased a number of historical methods of paper making.

I wish I had been able to spend more time in the museum, but honestly, it was a bit overwhelming. I believe the best way to throughly enjoy the Deutsches Museum is in a couple of trips, so that your mind doesn't get completely overloaded by all the things to see and learn. On the way out though, I caught sight of a beautiful view of Munich's famous skyline, which includes the famous twin towers of the Frauenkirche.

Once I was done visiting, I met my friend Emily for the afternoon. It was so great spending the afternoon with Emily in her new hometown of Munich, as she knew so much interesting trivia and of course, it was so lovely to spend time with a fellow expat!
We enjoyed a fabulous, leisurely lunch out in the sun- it was probably the warmest day of the year up to that point (and since then as well.)
After our long lunch, we wandered around Munich for a while, chatting, and having Emily teach me all about the city. I think I need a refresher though before posting about the history- this will teach me not to take notes!!
We stopped and had some delicious ice cream, which helped to cool us down after baking in the sun at lunch.
We did find ourselves at the Viktualienmarkt though, which seems to be an incredible outdoor market. Unfortunately since it was Sunday afternoon, the stands were closed, but I do hope to visit again during opening hours, as it looks wonderful!

From the Viktualienmarkt, we wound back towards the Marienplatz, where Emily was kind enough to wait with me for Joern and Marcel to return from their BMW meeting. When they finally arrived, Joern was able to bribe Emily to have dinner with us (only a little salt was needed.) We had a fabulous dinner at Augutsiner Großgestätten, one of the many restaruants run by "Munich's beer," Augustiner. The building itself is really great because it has a very large interior courtyard, which definately helps on warm summer evenings. Dinner was much better than at the Hofbräuhaus, with a better atmosphere to boot! We had a great dinner with lots of laughs!

We had such a fun time, Joern and I are already talking about a return trip to Munich!

Sonntag, 24. Mai 2009

Munich Day 1

Last Saturday, Joern, Marcel, and I headed out for an overnight in Munich. Joern is a member of a BMW 7 Series club, and they had a memorial meeting for a member who passed away last year. Since the meeting was slightly outside Munich, I decided that I would skip the meeting, opting instead to visit with my friend Emily who has been in Munich for a few years now.
Our trip on Saturday took about two hours. Once we were in Munich, we had to wash the car, since a large emphasis of Joern's club's meetings involves looking at each other's cars.
Of course, Marcel thought he had different responsibilites in the car cleaning endeavour.

We then drove in to Munich, and had to pose for some pictures with one of our two babies:

From our photo op, we then went on to our version of Mecca, BMW Welt and the BMW Museum. Hello heaven!
The first stop with BMW Welt (BMW World,) it is basically a showroom with displays of current and future BWM technologies, as well as the pick-up location for new BMWs.

After looking at all the lovely cars, we made a stop by last year's Formula 1 model.

The boys were quite pleased with the many displays of the current BMW engines available today.

Before leaving, we walked up to the bridge from which you can watch people picking up their cars. Evidently, the cars are presented on little turn-tables, so that your car is completely the center of attention. The new BMW owners then get to drive their car right out of the showroom. BMW offers a great program for overseas buyers, which allows people to still pick up their car at BMW Welt, then to drive around Europe to their final desitnation of a shipping port, where you drop off your car for shipping overseas. I'm sure that it is a very special way to bond with your new car.

Because it was getting late, it was time to head over to the BMW Museum, which is right next to the headquarters of BMW. Quite possibly, my favorite place in the world!

The museum was even more lovely than we had expected. It was very well designed, as it starts at the top, and you spiral down. You don't have to go into all the sections, which made Joern happy because he was there to see cars, not motorcycles, and not to read about the history of the company.
At the very top, you begin with early BMWs.

From there, we made our way to the section devoted to the 7 Series, BMW's luxury line. We are super 7 Series people, as we have two "collector" 7 Series from the 1980s. Some of it, I think, is Joern's love for all things 1980s, but also, they are really special cars, and I know we're quite lucky to have two.
The most exciting thing for us was that the car they chose to represent the E32 model (1986-1992), the cars we have, is that we own the exact model, a 750, that was on display, same color, same interior. The only thing we agreed on though, is that our car's wheels are much better looking than those on the displayed car. I have never owned anything that was on display at a museum. We talked about how exciting it is that BMW picked our exact car as one of the best ones they ever made. Obviously, although we may be a bit biased, Joern and I wholeheartedly agree.

With our chests puffed out a bit more, we checked out the rest of the museum. The concept cars were quite interesting, especially the Z9, as you could see many elements that other BMWs have taken from it.

We enjoyed looking at two of the cars that were in James Bond films:

And Joern was particulary excited to see his first car on display as well:

Once we had our fill of the museum, we made our way to the center of Munich for dinner

After much discussion, Joern decided that he wanted to stick with what we know for dinner, so we went to the Hofbräuhaus for dinner.

It was crowded, and the waiter was ridiculously rude, but the food was pretty good and the beer went down great!

Mittwoch, 13. Mai 2009

Frühlingsfest 2009

We went to the Stuttgart Frühlingsfest (Spring Fest) over the holiday weekend. The Frühlingsfest is like the Volksfest, just a smaller, springier version.
Joern, Marcel, and I went on Friday afternoon, and we met Joern's friend Fabio, and his wife and daughter.
Overall, it was a lot of fun. I am a sucker for these fests during the day and early evening. The atmosphere is quite fun and happy, and most of the people aren't too drunk yet.
Because Joern isn't really much of a "fest person," we only started going to fests last year. I found out that Joern actually brought me to the Frühlingsfest in May, 2000, during my first visit to Germany. During that first week we met, we were so excited to be together that we never slept. Joern was looking for something to do one night, and suggested the Fest. We only were able to go on one ride, the Wild Mouse, because we got there right before the fest closed. I don't remember much about the Fest because we weren't there long, and Joern didn't explain that we were visiting the Stuttgart's spring-version of Oktoberfest.
Now, I've turned it into a way to commemorate our first meeting nine years ago. It is so much fun to walk around the Fest grounds and talk about our first week together.
This year, we were offered a few moments alone, mostly on the rides, but that's okay too.
Here are a few highlights of our afternoon:

We probably went on a few more rides this year than the usual, the Wild Mouse, the Log Flume, the Alpina Bahn (roller coaster,) and the Polyp. Marcel and I went on the high swings, because you probably couldn't pay Joern to go on them.

What I really love about the Fest is the amazing sensory overload it supplies. I love the flashy, brightly colored stands, the plethora of stuffed animals at the game stands. I know it is all marketing, all intended on getting you to spend an extra Euro, but this is a very unique style of marketing. Something about the sights and sounds of the Fest really appeal to me.

We also stopped in the Göckelesmaier tent. There aren't as many tents at the Frühlingsfest as the Volksfest, but they're still fun, the chicken and the beer taste pretty good too.

All in all, it was a great day. The Fest is all about celebrating Spring, being Swabian, and well, the beer! Days like this make me feel so lucky for all the amazing experiences I have living here in Germany.

Sonntag, 10. Mai 2009


I hate to admit it, but we got totally wrapped up in the German version of American Idol, Deutschland Sucht den Superstar, this year. We haven't watched it since the first season 6 years ago.
My biggest problem with the show, besides the level of cheese, is that the winners are never talented. Every season, the talented people get voted off before reaching the top 3. The winners have always been talentless pretty boys, which for me was just a turn-off.
This year, we were already draw in by the casting shows. There were such a variety of characters. The German version of Simon, Dieter Bohlen, a major German record producer, seemed to have changed this season. Although he was still mean, his comments were not simply mean as in the past, this time he had many positive comments as well.
We also liked the variety of singers that made it to the top 10. Although all weren't superstar material, there were some great personalities. There was Holger the Entertainer (we really didn't like his singing though,) Vanessa the adorable 16 year old who sang wonderfully cheesy German "Schlager" hits, Cornelia who always had her harp in accompianment, Dominik also an adorable kid who sang James Blunt songs incredibly well, the scandalous Annamarie, and two incredible talents, Daniel and Sarah.
I have to admit, we were totally hooked. Last week, while having dinner with Joern's cousin and wife, we made them turn the TV on so we could see the semi-final, when Annamarie got kicked off the show.
Last night, the two finalists, I have to say, are both incredibly talented. There has never been a DSDS with such talents in the final. Daniel has seriously, an incredible voice. Joern, Marcel, and I all talked about how we would definately buy a CD from Daniel. Sarah, the other finalist, was able to sing Whitney Houston titles with almost more ease than Whitney herself. She has an amazing voice as well.
The final was quite suspenseful, as it was hard to make a choice between the two.
After Sarah sang her final song, the jury declared her the "Diva." She sang beautifully and had a beautiful presence on the stage. Then, after Daniel sang his final song, for the first time ever, Dieter Bohlen (the German Simon,) said that he truly felt Daniel had the potential to become a world star, following in the footsteps of Kelly Clarkson. Daniel clinched our vote, of course, our vote was mental and not real, but we really felt Daniel had the highest potential of any DSDS finalist.
In the end, Daniel did win, which was very exciting! I hope that he has good songs on his CD, that really could make or break him.
Now, we just have to avoid next year's casting shows, for fear of being pulled in again!

Sonntag, 3. Mai 2009

Return to Parma

We returned to Parma for our final night in Italy. Although we had booked a B&B in the outskirts of Parma, I wanted to return to the city for a few hours, to soak up some more wonderful atmosphere, and see a few more sights.
What I really enjoyed about returning to Parma was that we already had some familiarity with the city. I could slow down to see more details, which as in most places in Italy, are rather abundant.

We headed back to the Duomo, because I wanted to see the interior. One of the interesting things in Europe is that famous art does not exist only in museums, many famous pieces exists in churches. The Duomo in Parma is most famous for the Assumption of the Virgin, painted by Correggio. Correggio is probably the most famous Italian Renaissance painter from Parma.
Besides this famous fresco in the cupola, there are many other beautiful frescoes in the church.

We left the city around 4 pm and drove out towards out B&B, which was located about 15 minutes outside Parma. The outskirts of Parma are characterized by beautiful rolling hills and vineyards.

I found the B&B, Cancabaia, on TripAdvisor. It had received very high reviews, and I thought a night in a farmhouse would be an excellent way to end our trip. Little did I know just how special our last night would be. We found the B&B tucked away in the hills. The owners, Bruno and Simona welcomed us immediately. They were so friendly. Bruno, a farmer, took time away from his busy schedule to get us settled into our wonderful room. He also introduced us to one of their two dogs, Max.

Bruno and Simona gave us some recommendations of things to do in the area. Unfortunately, it was pretty late by the time we were ready to head out. I can imagine the area would be incredible just to walk or drive around, but during the day. With no streetlights, a nightime walk wouldn't get you too far. They suggested that we drive by the Torrechiara Castle, which is closeby the B&B.

After we took in the beautiful views of the castle, which has been closed for a few months following an earthquake, we headed into the hills. Bruno recommended a winery, and said that we could stop there to buy some wine. We found the beautiful winery,La Bandina, with no problem, and even though it was already 8 pm, the owners welcomed us, and offered us samples of all their wines. Parma is one of the areas where Lambrusco grapes are grown. The winery produces their own Lambrusco. But they also produce sparkling wines unique to the area, Colli di Parma Rosso and Malvasia, a lovely, dry white. They also produce Moscato, a sweet must, or young wine. We were given a tour of the production area. This winery produces 75,000 bottes per year. We arrived the day before bottling started for the year, so all the bottles were out and ready for filling. We had such a great experience, we came home with 13 bottles of wine. It was definately a good thing we drove!

We needed some food to soak up all that alcohol, so we headed to Il Mulino, a local restaurant recommended by Bruno and Simona. Oh my gosh! The restaurant was definately not geared towards tourists, it was more like a bar with some tables, but oh, the food! We started with some Parma Prosciutto and Parmagiano Reggiano cheese. Joern had tortelli with ricotta and herbs and I had tortelli with pumpkin. It was by far the most delicious of many delicious meals we had on the trip!

On Friday morning, we found an incredible spread in the beautiful breakfast room. Our breakfast was amazing, with fresh breads and cakes, homemade jams, Parmagiano Reggiano cheese served with honey, more Parma Prosciutto, homemade fritatta, and coffee with fresh milk.

After breakfast, Bruno took us across the street to a caseficio, a Parmagiano Reggiano cheese producer. Bruno, a dairy farmer, works with the cheese makers across the street. We were lucky not only to have a tour, but to be there the same day that Rai 3, an Italian TV station, was filming the caseficio for a show. Bruno first showed us the first phase of production, where starter is added to skimmed milk.

While the starter was working, Bruno then took us into the storage area, where the wheels sit in salt baths for 28 days.

Bruno taught us so much about the cheese. For those of you who may be slightly turned off by cheese sitting unrefrigerated for 28 days, he said that this is the best way to tell is something is wrong with the bacteria in the cheese. You can easily see by 28 days if the cheese is bad, whereas in large factories, there is little human control over the cheese.
He then took us back to the production area, where the cheese curds were being cut into small pieces.

The solids were then heated, and collected in cheesecloths, where they sit above the copper vats for some time to let the water drip out.

From there we went to the cheese storage building, housing about 4,000 wheels of cheese. The wheels come here after the 28 days in the salt baths. The cheese ages for 12 months. There is also a machine that runs 24 hours a day. The machine takes each wheel from the shelf, cleans it, and turns it over. It is really an interesting process!

Because we were lucky enough to be visiting with a TV team, we were treated to a special opening of a wheel. This is usually not done for the public. It was so amazing to watch the cheese maker painstakingly cut lines and insert knives in order to properly cut the wheel in half. Of course, the best part here was the taste-test when the wheel was opened!

Of course, we bought some cheese before we left.
Before we left to go home, Bruno called his uncle, who produces Parma Prosciutto, to see if we could stop by his shop. He had to call because it was lunch time by then, and most things close for 2 hours. We drove to Langhirano, a town outside of Parma, the actual site of Parma Prosciutto factories. Bruno's cousin let us in, and first, we bought some Parma Prosciutto and Cultatello, which is only found in the region, and is similar to Parmo Prosciutto. Then, Bruno's cousin brought us to the storage cellar where the hams and salamis were aging. Bruno's uncle also came to greet us.
Again, a very special experience!

It started raining as we left, which signaled our time to leave our wonderful week in Emilia Romagna. Of course, the surprise came when the rain turned to heavy snow in Switzerland.