Archive for August, 2010

Teeth and disappointment

Petite France

Today was one of those days you try not to remember in years to come. I went to bed bursting with excitement, alarm set early for a trip over the border to Strasbourg. Flea markets and Alsatian cuisine were high on the agenda, and this was my very last opportunity before we leave for Leipzig on Friday. After all, what’s the point in living a scant hour and a half from France if you cant visit a few brocantes every now and then? Barely had my head hit the pillow when I noticed I was in pain; severe, gnawing pain on one side of my jaw up into my cheek. I woke every hour or so only to realise the large quantities of pain killers were failing to keep the agony at bay. Morning dawned, my alarm went off, and I enjoyed the same breakfast of soggy weetabix that Rose eats every morning. In desperation, Tony tried calling “emergency dental” numbers, but couldn’t translate the recorded messages enough to make progress. “That’s it!” cried I, “We’re going to Strasbourg if it kills me!” Fifteen minutes later we made a U-turn at Gerlingen and headed to Olga Hospital with me in agony and utter misery. To curtail the woeful story, a kind dentist agreed to see me to some avail, but the excruciating pain added insult to injury and I spent the rest of the day with tears and a heat pack on my cheek. If there’s anything redeeming in this tragic situation (and it’s a stretch), maybe it’s the excuse I have to eat those creamy desserts from Neukauf. Ninety cents for a four pack of chocolate puddings? Bring it on.

Petite France by jwallacebrown

Zwetschgen time

I know it must seem as though I do nothing but eat over here, so often do my posts run along these lines. Thing is, Germany and I seem to get on well as long as we stick to topics of mutual interest, such as food. A week ago in the backerei I noticed that my favourite pflaumenkuchen had been replaced by something called zwetschgendaschi. Then I noticed the word zwetschgen had cropped up all over the place; zwetschgenplunder, zwetschgenschnitten and so on. Was this some ploy to make my already bad pronunciation of “plum cake” even worse? Well, no. As it turns out, zwetschgens are a treasured part of the late German summer. Many a tree can be seen around Botnang laden with these dark coloured beauties. Ever the German wannabe, I filled my market basket with these eggs of powdery purple and put google to work for a recipe. What ensued was one of those heavenly meetings between tart, jammy fruit and buttery, sweet cake. Ordinary pflaumenkuchen just doesn’t seem to cut it anymore.

A tour of Stuttgart

Given how soon I’ll be leaving Stuttgart, it’s about time I showed you what the city actually looks like. Stuttgart is not renowned for being beautiful like Munich or interesting like Berlin, but it does have its charming ways and fair share of landmarks from centuries of history. Of course, very little of the city center remained after World War Two, being almost completely destroyed by bombs. But somehow it emerged from the rubble and gradually filled the gaping holes.

Marktplatz, this is where the produce market has been held since the 14th century

Markthalle, where breads, meats and produce run the gamut from traditional Swabian to exotic.

Schlossplatz, the site of demonstrations, festivals and political rallies

 

Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, the Museum of Art

Koenig Strasse, a jostle of puppies, buskers and prams the size of minibuses

The Neues Schloss (New Castle). Once the residence of Wurtemberg’s kings, it was bombed to smitherines and then rebuilt during the 50s and 60s

 

Stiftskirche, Stuttgart’s Gothic church

Schillerplatz with the flower market spread out below

The Altes Schloss (Old Castle). With its lovely rotund towers and red roof, one cant help thinking of Rapunzel.

A stitch in time

Remember this wool? A few months later and my German isn’t much better, but I’ve finally finished the cardigan. If only the former were as easy as the latter. The sweet little buttons came from my beloved flea markets, while the pattern was an ebay find. I love knitting in summer; there’s no sense of urgency or the fear that the weather will warm up as soon as you finish something. Sadly, this is one of those tragedies where despite diligent measuring, the child grows faster than the knitting. A bit of careful washing can usually overcome this, but alas (you may remember), I cleverly chose superwash wool which has done its job beautifully and refuses to change its gauge. I’ll dwell no longer on this sorrowful thought, lest I frighten summer away…

Half-timbered

One thing I’ll miss about Swabia is the abundance of half-timbered homes that invite you to simply stand and stare for a while. There’s something rustic but equally kitschy about them. They just look so friendly, wouldn’t you agree?

Road tripping

Everyone hates moving house; it’s universally acknowledged as awful. The endless hours of trawling through ads, the frustrating phone calls to agents, the visits to prospective homes (mentally superimposing one’s belongings) to say nothing of the packing, lifting, cleaning, traveling, lifting and unpacking. I’ve moved plenty of times before, but this time it’s very different. In a few weeks we’ll be leaving Stuttgart for Leipzig. The two cities are about as different as German cities come. On Monday we braved the autobahn and the five hundred kilometer distance in order to find a place to live. On Wedneday night we collapsed into bed around 1am, utterly exhausted.

So what makes this move so very different? First, there’s the language. Leipzig is (by all accounts) a challenging city for a non-German speaker. I could only listen in wonder as Tony bravely made phone call after terrifying phone call, stretching his limited (though rather impressive) German vocabulary as far as possible. Then there are the subtle differences of culture; Germany’s apartments generally come without light fittings, window coverings or indeed, kitchens. It’s no longer a mystery to me that Ikea sells kitchens in exactly the same way as they sell photo frames or coathangers. But aside from these challenges, there is much I’m looking forward to. Leipzig is a fascinating city. I’m eager to know it’s culture and history as well as I now know its hallways, staircases, balconies, bathrooms and (empty) kitchens. It promises to be an adventure.

Road

Road journal by mamaroots

Atlas Bangle Bracelet

Atlas bangle bracelet by soitsgray

On the Road

“On the Road” by slgdesigns

Happy Trails - Tiny Retro Ice Cube Trailer  Rubber Stamp

Happy Trails – tiny retro ice cube trailer rubber stamp by Corabelle

5x7 Germany wc travel journal - Leipzig

Leipzig travel journal by spacedogstudios

New friends

Vielen dank to the Seeburger family! Over the past few months you may have noticed Mirjam commenting away, adding the invaluable perspective of a German local to my bewildered musings. Apart from being a real Swabian girl, Mirjam has the merit of having once walked on my home street when she stayed with our friends and neighbours the Leemens. This weekend, Mirjam and her family were kind enough to invite us to their lovely home in nearby Dotternhausen. Mirjam’s father was an instant hit with Rose, playing all manner of teddy games. Her nieces patiently shared their toys, pets, ice creams, swings and trampoline; so attentive was Luisa that by the end of the day we were ready to employ her as an au pair. Aside from the delicious homemade cheesecake, the joy in all this was spending time with a real family; admiring the garden, sharing afternoon tea and enjoying the company of parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and siblings. It was a rare treat for us. Thankyou Mirjam and all the family, we had a wonderful time!


About Me

A girl with a camera, a toddler and a sewing machine. Making sense of Germany... and life in general.

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