Friday, July 27, 2012

You know it's the 21st century when...

Your campsite has wifi! But seriously, this place is great. Three am was our wake up time and we were on the road by 4am! Mario may or may not have been caught speeding just outside of Munich. We made our way through Slovenia, stopping in Ljublyana for an hour, before crossing into Croatia. After a short stop in Split we found a campground along the coast and settled in 582 miles after leaving Munich! We swam a bit, cooked dinner, took a night walk, and called it a night. We have to leave by noon, so we'll head out (we're a little past the town of Omis) after a bit of packing up and beach time :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

PICTURES!

Because it's more fun to see pictures than to read my endless ramblings ;)

Garden

Rainy morning walk

Austrian mountains





Laufen, Germany where the family's farm is.  In German the verb laufen means to run.


Our milk makes Bavaria strong!



Side view of the house and barn

Family home built by the family in 1910



Chapel where "Silent Night" was composed and first performed

Tourist!

A night out with my favorite boys!

Friends!



Bavaria!!!


Band in Hofbrauhaus

Friday, July 20, 2012

Guess what IIIII have...

A Ukainian Visa!! Yipppeeee! I went to the Consulate on Wednesday morning, waited just a few minutes and that pretty little document was mine allll mine! So happy! It just makes it that much more real.  Since then I have purchased my bus ticket to Kiev, my plane ticket to Amsterdam, and made my Amsterdam hostel reservation.  Everything is coming together and even though I will be said to leave Germany, there is always another adventure to look forward to.
So let's backtrack a little.  This past weekend I had an amazing time visiting the family's farm in Laufen, Germany on the boarder with Austria.  Toby and I took the train there Friday afternoon and from the moment we arrived I was greeted by the warm hospitality of his family.  They were patient with my spotty German and we were actually able to converse with each other a bit.  Toby gave me a tour of the farm Friday, Saturday we went into Salzburg, and Sunday we toured Laufen and casually crossed the bridge into Austria. On Saturday two neighbor kids who are 3 and 8 came over and after a few minutes of them being shy we were running around the house, laughing,and having all sorts of fun.  Sunday early afternoon while we were out they called twice to see if I was home and were at the house as soon as I arrived back.  We played until I had to leave and they demanded to know when I would be back to play with them again.  They were oh so adorable and I love that I have enough German to understand and speak a little with the young kids.  Plus, they don't care if I make mistakes :)
Since Friday was the last day of my German course I have had a bit more free time in the mornings this week.  It's nice not to be leaving for the grocery store or doing housework while the kids are home in the afternoon.  I have had more time to cook and do a little extra cleaning and can relax or even update my blog ;) so I am a happy camper.
Federico is here this week in Munich!!! He arrived Tuesday evening and I can't say enough how happy I am that the three musketeers are reunited! Tuesday night we met up and went to Mario's brother's birthday get together and Wednesday and yesterday we just walked and laughed, went to Hofbräuhaus, and took all sorts of silly pictures. He is here until Saturday morning so today we're planning a final night of fun.
So now for a little Chelsea-oopsy story.  Tuesday night after the birthday celebration I was on one of the last s-bahn trains home.  I was so so sleepy and probably should have stood up instead of sitting down on the train.  I heard the announcement for Geising, but next thing I knew I was looking out the window as the train was leaving Unterhaching (my station!!!) I thought, "no problem! I'll ride to the next station and take the next train back!" Nope! I did ride to the next station, but only to see that it was a brief 186 minute wait for the next train.  So I got a number of a taxi service from the ever helpful Mario, somehow managed to order the taxi and get home using only German and made it safely to my nice comfy bed. Phew! Next time I'm that tired I will NOT sit down on the train!
My time in Germany is quickly coming to an end.  At the end of next week Mario and I will leave for our Southeastern Europe camping adventure, then back to Unterhaching for about a little over a week, then off to Amsterdam, back to Munich for two days, Kiev for a week, and finally Kharkov!
Всего хорошего!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

It has been about a week, so it is time for another blog update.  I kept busy the rest of last week with my regular au pair awesomeness.  The kids are so fun and for those of you who know me well, you know how much a enjoy housework (like seriously, I'm not being sarcastic at all, I may be a little crazy about it). Friday was the kick-off of Bürgerfest (the internets tell me the 40th annual) here in Unterhaching.  The kids came excitedly running into the house Friday evening, telling me that the festival had begun and before I knew it I was chasing three excited 8 year olds to the festivities.  The festival was filled with food, games, rides, music, and many a lederlosen-clad gent and dirndl-clad gal. When we had had our fill of fun we headed back home and played for a bit.  After Leni and Berni went to bed I was reading in my room and fell asleep lights on and still in my day clothes.  I guess I was tired! Saturday I slept in and made Schnitzel with the family! It was fun and delicious and oh so Bavarian! Later Mario and I went to Tegernsee not so much for the lake as much as to just get out of Munich for a bit.  We climbed up some mountain paths that were often steep enough to make me feel like I was perpendicular to them and Sunday morning my shins let me know about it. It was a fun afternoon though and when we got back to Munich Central Station I bought a book in English from the bookstore inside the station.  I had been wanting to get my hands on some good reading and I'm already happy with my decision. The book is entitled Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty - check it out if you have time to dive into about 500 pages! Sunday I woke up a little early and did some studying over breakfast and coffee.  I did my laundry and had a slight disagreement with the washing machine.  I thought I was doing everything exactly as I did last time, but for some reason my clothes were in that washing machine FOREVER! The real kicker is that the machine door locks while washing, so even if I turned to power off my clothes were trapped inside.  Eventually it finished its extreme cleaning of my clothes and I got them out.  It was pretty warm so Mario and I met up at the river for a little laying in the sun and then a short walk around Munich. Monday I went late to school so that I could go to the Ukrainian Consulate to submit all of my documents and pay for the visa.  When the Consular was checking all of my documents his reaction to my passport was "oooo America!" The man who processed the payment was equally as confused, but they told me that on July 18th I can come back and pick up my passport with Ukrainian Visa! YAY!
Lately I've been baking quite a bit because I have the time and it's a lot of fun.  I think the kids appreciate the yummies as well)) In addition to sugar cookies I have also made Snickerdoodles and banana bread.  I want to experiment with some new recipes soon! 
всего хорошего!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

"With whom can I speak about a visa?" I ask confidently in Russian.  "Where do you hold citizenship?" The door guard asks suspiciously.  "In the USA, but I have an invitation on which is written that my place of issue of the visa is Germany," I quickly assure him before he has a chance to try to tell me that it isn't possible to receive my visa here.  "Ok, you'll need to wait in that line over there." I can still hear the scepticism in his tone of voice, but say "thank you" and give a small smile as I make my way to the end of the line.  "Okay, 6-7 people in front of me...hopefully this won't take too long," I think to myself and just at that moment I realize how hot the room is and see the worry and frustration on the faces of so many.  The minutes tick by and my heart begins to race a bit as people approach the window and are told that their documents are incorrect or that the consulate can not help them.  My initial judgement of the line proves to be wrong as 17:45 quickly approaches, at which time the consulate will stop taking requests and send all those waiting home.  The people in line with me are all Ukrainians, but we make small talk in Russian to help the time pass a bit.  When my turn finally comes I don't even have time to think before I am explaining my situation to the woman behind the counter and feeling more and more confident as the Russian flows easily from my lips.  She understands my situation, explains to me how I can pay for the visa, confirms that all of my documents are in order, and tells me that the specialist who prints visas will be there on the 16th of July and that I should submit everything before that date.  We even crack a few jokes. I thank her, smile, and leave the consulate jittery with relief.  As I'm taking the train home I think to myself that even though the consulate may be hot and full of distressed individuals on any given day, the people who work there can still smile and laugh, they can be stern when necessary, but honestly do their best to help everyone to the extent that they are able.  And that is the kind of work I want to do someday!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

For those of you back in Indiana, you probably don't want to hear me say anything about hot weather because it is so much hotter there, but I'll say it anyway - It has been a hot past few days! Friday was the first really hot day of the weekend after a short but powerful thunderstorm and lots of rain in the early morning.  We went to the river around 7pm, but the sun was still hot at that point and the ice cold water was refreshing.  After some aimless wandering, Turkish "fast food", proving to Mario that beer IS on the menu at McDonalds in Germany, and yet another walk by the Russian consulate, we headed back to his apartment to make a plan for Saturday and I ended up just waiting until morning to go back to Unterhaching.
Saturday we enjoyed some sun and swimming at Chiemsee.  Since our tickets were good for any Bavarian trains the entire day, we took the 50 minute train ride from Chiemsee and found ourselves in Salzburg, Austria.  We had about an hour and a half before we had to catch the last train back towards Munich, so we wandered around the city center and took some pictures.  Even though it was after 8pm and the sun was setting, it was quite hot and humid.  By the time we were on the train home I think we were both a bit worn out from the day.  Once I got back to Unterhaching I fell asleep pretty quickly and slept hard until the morning.  Today I just plan on relaxing in Unterhaching before the start of another full week.

Salzburg, Austria