Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My week: December 27 ed.

This week was a relaxed one, with no classes. I invited my tandem partner over for dinner and made what is, undoubtedly, a strange combination of things. However, I am weak in domestic skills and have a limited repertoire, so what can I say? The following items were on the menu: deviled eggs, salad, crackers with goat cheese and dried pomegranates, apple slices with pesto and balsamic garnish, and pizza bites (more like pizza pockets and homemade).

-My friends W and M kindly invited me over for a Christmas dinner. They made a delicious vegetarian lasagna (with added rosemary and thyme - lovely!) and we enjoyed some conversation, which was, even better yet, mostly in German! It was really funny when M was explaining a story and for some reason called a business proprietor an "Ownerin," even though the rest of the story was in German. That's what we get for code switching!

I'm so glad to have spent time with lovely people for Christmas. Though I'm far from my blood family, I still feel loved by my friend family.

Monday, December 28, 2015

My week: December 20 ed.

-This was the last week of German classes for a while because of the holidays. At the uni, we had a little party during the last class. Our teacher brought in Glühwein for us, which is best served hot. I was wondering how she was going to do that in our classroom. It was ingenious! She brought a "Wasserkocher," or, an electric tea kettle and used that to heat the Glühwein quickly. What a great idea.

-I visited the Rüdesheim and Bad Münster am Stein-Ebernburg Christmas markets with my friend M. We haven't hung out in since this summer so it was fun to catch up. This was my second year attending the Rüdesheim market and my third time visiting the city. I sent M on a tour of Siegfried's Mechanisches Musikkabinett and since I've already been on the tour before, I wandered through town.

After that, we headed toward Bad Münster, which is near Bad Kreuznach. We ended up making quite a few laps as we tried to find a parking spot for the Christmas market. It made me pine for taking the train! Finally we found a spot and headed over to the Kurpark, where the market was being held. Near the spa, it's a park bordered by buildings. The area was filled with booths and bordered by trees that looked like lit-up orbs with Christmas lights. It was also quite busy!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Oh Harald, how you get around

As I first ventured into the exotic land of German supermarkets, I encountered Harald Glööckler. Or, more accurately, I could say that I discovered his over-the-top image on a chocolates box. Following that, I've seen him at a pet store.

I ran into Ol' Harald again at the luggage store. He was definitely more subdued in appearance than he had been in other advertising ventures but still made a splash with his mismatched shoes (toddler couture?) and huge rings.

Oh, Harald, how you travel! He knows the way to a woman's heart: have her pack her luggage that he designed, stash some chocolates inside, and kit her pet out in style, thanks to this over the top gentleman and the products he endorses. He always fascinates me but I think it's mostly because I have Angst for his facial hair.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

2015 Trippstadt Christmas Market Review

I visited the Romantische Waldweinacht in Trippstadt earlier in December. Hosted by the Haus der Nachhaltigkeit (House of Sustainability, which seems similar in idea to a nature center), it's probably one of my favorite Christmas markets and I gladly planned a trip C+K and their friend M. We met at the Kaiserslautern train station and hopped on the bus that was marked for Johanniskreuz, the area where the market is held. We knew that it would be utter foolishness and a load of stress to attempt to drive there because the forest roads are already narrow and there is extremely limited parking during the event.

This year, I suggested that we try to arrive earlier. In previous years, we arrived when it was dark out and didn't have as much time as we would have liked. This year, we arrived at 2:30 p.m. It was so different to be at the market during the daytime! I think that there was a different layout too, so it made my third year there a little bit disorienting. Next year I would plan to arrive and stay a bit later since it's even more magical when it's dark and the grounds are lit by campfires.

We started by sampling some organic Glühwein. I think it tastes so much better than the regular stuff and this market has plenty of it -- usually directly from the vintners themselves, and I can't bring myself to drink non-organic Glühwein any more. We bought from two separate vendors; mine was less sweet than C's serving but both were quite good.

The next order of business was to find something to eat. My plan is usually to survey all the offerings and then decide. This particular market is great for those wanting to sample regional Palatinate specialties, which are, to put it simply, pretty much meat, meat, and wine. There was even Saumagen, which is pretty much the meatiest of the meat, and what Helmut Kohl used to torment introduce visiting dignitaries to the local cuisine. K, M, and I eventually decided on Kastanienwurst, which is a sausage that has chestnuts cooked inside. C chose Feuerwurst (literally, "fire sausage") and just about set his hair on fire (figuratively) with how spicy it was. Usually German food isn't very hot but this one was crazy spicy.

There was some entertainment options too. During our visit we listened to the brass band. There was also a pony ride vendor. Well, they were miniature horses, which are even smaller than ponies are, so they are suitable for small children only.

We also browsed the goods for sale from the vendors who set up both outside and inside of the reception center. Goods are handmade and include things like wooden kitchen accessories, hand lotions, Christmas decorations, foods, photographs, jewelry, and more. One of my favorite booths was the miniature book maker. He posted sweet messages around his booth with quotes (in German) like "pictures allowed," "questions allowed," "buying allowed." The books are really neat; most are fewer than two inches big and include text (though I'm guessing it's just an excerpt of the book). Maybe I should have bought one; they were reasonably priced at 4 euros or so.
Finishing up our trip to the Christmas market, we visited the roof of the Haus and took some pictures and then waited a bit and took the next bus home. By the time we left, it had gotten dark but we were leaving before the fire dancers started. Next year, I plan to give myself about 2.5 hours to visit but will arrive later when it's closer to nightfall to both catch the entertainment and to experience the coziness of the glowing fires in the dark.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Street Food Festival in Kaiserslautern, 19-20 December

Facebook event
19 December, Saturday 12:00 - 21:00
20 December, Sunday 12:00 - 19:00

Held at: Kammgarn
Schoenstrasse 10, 67659 Kaiserslautern 
On-street and lot parking available; pay at the meter 

Get your street eats on at the BE! Street Food Weekend this weekend. Located in the courtyard of the Kammgarn cultural center, it's a collection of food trucks of cuisines around the world. Entry is free and the food's prices are reasonable for a food festival, at about 7 euros for a meal.

I saw the following available:

Portuguese baked goods, including churro-looking snacks
Pulled pork, even deer, and other BBQ
Spiral, fried potatoes
Eritrean food (including injera, a flatbread, served either with greens and lentils or with a beef option)
Currywurst, cheesewurst, regular wurst, fries
Beer stand

I ordered the vegetarian option at the Eritrean food stand. I enjoyed the greens with lentils, at 5,50 euros, served with spongy injera.

Monday, December 14, 2015

My week: December 13 ed.

After a hiatus from writing weekly updates, I'm back to it again. In November, I took a big trip to the US and had planned to catch up on writing updates from that time. I never got around to it and was feeling all retentive about not writing things in chronological order. Had I continued down that road, I'd probably never get another weekly update written because I'm getting further and further behind so I'm just biting the bullet and getting back on track.

-I had German lessons and met again with my tandem partner. I really missed all of the practice; it had been almost three weeks.

-My friends who Moosat for me while I was gone were taking some trips themselves and both separately called to see if they could come by to cuddle Moo before they left. They just adore him; how sweet is that? He was more interested in rubbing his face on their coats and bags as a memento but did assent to being squished a bit.

-In other Moo news, he's been acting a bit needy since I've gotten back. One night he threw a little Moo-party outside my bedroom door. Apparently I went to bed too early for his liking and didn't give him the attention he thought he deserved. To try to make me feel envious, he mooed, ran around, pounded on the door, and ran into it, throwing a wild party to make me wish that I had joined the fun.

The next night, he found a toilet paper tube and used it to play as a "maraca" outside my door. I wasn't horribly excited about that because I was almost asleep when I had to go snatch it from him.

The night following that, he sat outside my bedroom door and sang Christmas Moo-carols to me in the morning. He was certain that I had slept more than enough - which I did! (10.5 hours; I'm not sure why I'm so tired lately) 

Oh, and in good news: he doesn't need surgery! He had a cyst on his lip just before I left. I didn't want to stress him with surgery and recovery while I was gone so decided to wait. A week after I left it was gone. I checked back with the vet and she agreed he wouldn't need surgery. Yay!

-I ended up taking a tour of a German organization that does similar things to what I do in my job. I thought it would be a group tour so I could hide any deficiencies in understanding and speaking but I was the only one there so it ended up becoming a professional dialog with the director. It was all in German - eek! I'm glad that I didn't know ahead of time that this would happen because otherwise I would have obsessed over speaking in German with a German peer from my profession. I think I would have turned on heel and left had that been the case! I still freak out about speaking German and it's even more daunting to have to do so in a professional environment. I'm not a stupid person but I sure sound stupid when I speak German. Despite me sounding like an uneducated clod, the director was very gracious and we chatted about the differences and similarities in the way we do things at work. I even offered them some help with a certain project and the director happily accepted.

-I visited the Christmas market in Trippstadt/Johanniskreuz, which is my favorite.

-I attended a group lunch with some friends.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Some impressions from the Trippstadt Christmas Market

I'm working on a review of this year's "Romantische Waldweinacht" Christmas Market in Trippstadt. Until it's finished, I'll leave you with some impressions from our visit on Saturday.

(Note: this Christmas market continues on Sunday, 13 December, from 1000-1800. More info from the host of it is available here. Take the bus -- don't drive there because it's very congested in the area on the narrow forest roads.)

 Get your Kringelfritz on! No, seriously, if you are an enjoyer of funnel cakes, these are the German version and apparently you can even get the dough to-go to make at home if you'd like. Beware of the powdered sugar on top though; see the lady in front wiping it off her coat? She's a victim of how messy it is.
Brass band

This poor guy seems to need a bathroom. Doesn't he know that there are nice ones inside and that they even use rainwater for flushing?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Trippstadt Christmas market: organic and handmade! 12-13 December

My favorite Christmas market is this weekend!  The Haus der Nachhaltigkeit (House of Sustainability) in Trippstadt hosts its annual market on Saturday and Sunday.

To learn all about it, check out what I wrote last year.

The number one tip for attending this is: don't drive there! Take the bus. Traffic is heavy, the roads there are narrow, and parking is limited. Taking the bus is a much more relaxing experience and there are special shuttle runs arranged for that evening.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Ich stimme zu! The Thanksgiving tree

I saw this sign and a tree where people were encouraged to write about something for which they are thankful.

I could have been the one who wrote the the item below (though I didn't). I feel this way too!

Monday, December 7, 2015



Oops. Gingerbread men. Really. That's what we are.

(Seen as the ASZ Wintermarkt in Kaiserslautern last weekend).

Sunday, December 6, 2015

A merry, if unrealistic, Christmas

Edeka has a cute holiday commercial:

However, I'd like to say that it's an unrealistic depiction of what shopping and waiting in line at a real German supermarket would be like. If people were actually held up in line like this, despite it being something cute, there would more likely be a line of people with their arms crossed, sighing, snarling, and unhappy. It's downright cray-cray at German supermarkets in the checkout line.

Despite that, it's still fun to watch this video.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Think before blurting

In German class we expanded our vocabulary and worked on reflexive verbs by talking about relationships.

I confused Fernbeziehung with Fernbedienung in class and blurted out that "Fernbeziehung" is a "Gerät" that one uses with the TV.


I've heard that one has to make a lot of mistakes to achieve fluency in a foreign language. Since I regularly make an ass of myself when I speak German, I should be a Profi by now. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Where to learn German in the Kaiserslautern area

So you’ve decided that you’d like to learn German as a foreign language. Now what? If you’re in the KMC, here are some options that are available. The first options are only available to military-affiliated people who have access to the posts/bases (if you don't have it already, you probably won't get it, if that makes sense) but the community options are open to everyone.

ON BASE/POST OPTIONS (only open to those with US military affiliation)

Ramstein FSS Classes: learn German from the community education center on the Ramstein Air Base. These are mostly beginners’ classes and are primarily explained in English.

USO: the USO also offers beginner’s German classes. They are mostly simple classes offered in English that describe the language and give one the basic skills needed to order at a restaurant or buy bus tickets. View the newest issue of the Kaiserslautern Kabel (the USO’s local magazine) or visit the organization’s website to find course offerings.

Army Community Services: these are offered for free on Pulaski Barracks. There are two classes offered, beginner and intermediate; the latter is more similar to an advanced beginner level. These are in English too with plenty of grammar and some speaking.


Volkshochschule: these are continuing education centers that offer a variety of classes, with everything from guitar lessons to language lessons, in the German community. Beginning through advanced German lessons are available in an immersive setting. Classes focus on grammar and speaking and are conducted in German. There are both intensive courses (every day for hours) and shorter night classes too. These classes also introduce one to German life and culture. Integration classes are available for those seeking German residency or citizenship. Courses are reasonably inexpensive. VHS Kaiserslautern:   Kreis Volkshochschule Kaiserslautern: (with classes in the suburbs surrounding Kaiserslautern)

Verein zur allgemeinen Völkerverständigung, Kultur und Bildung an der TU Kaiserslautern: the long name might give a hint that these classes are well-suited for the serious learner, and indeed, they are! They are intended to prepare foreign students at the Technical University of Kaiserslautern to take their area of study in German but outside participants are welcome too. There are evening classes and intensive classes. Each class covers one subset of a level, such as A.1. The entire class is conducted in German and focuses heavily on grammar and speaking with some writing. Classes are offered to non-TU students on a space-available basis. (I’ve always found a spot in the class).

Private schools and tutors: I haven’t taken lessons from anyone in the area in this form, but there are various options available. One of my friends took a class through a private school downtown and was pleased with the lessons. They were somewhat expensive compared to the public options; lessons were about 20 euros per hour-long session. However, those who prefer one-on-one learning may see faster results this way. Search the internet using terms such as “Deutsch als Fremdsprache” (German as a foreign language), “Sprachkurs” (language course), or “Deutsch Nachhilfe” (German tutoring) and the name of your town (or the next biggest one).

Whether a person wants to learn to speak tourist-level German or wants to learn enough to discuss the meaning of life, there are plenty of options in the Kaiserslautern Military Community.