Fußball & Johannisfest

June 29, 2010

Our weekend continued with more excitement - the Germany v. England game and the Johannisfest on Sunday! We decided to watch the match in Mainz since we were headed over for the Johannisfest that day as well. My new German/American friend invited us over to enjoy the game with her friends, amongst a massive crowd of Germans at a classic biergarten.

Unfortunately, the heat has continued to get more oppressive with the heavy humidity that always seems to accompany the sun over here, so watching the game outdoors was a test in resisting heat stroke. We resorted to scarves draped over our heads, lukewarm drinks (warm weißweinschorle, mmm...) and thankfully, a friend's SPF 70. 

Decked out in our German flag tats

The crowds' excitement over all the German goals and their subsequent win was contagious - and definitely helped us to forget about the sticky heat. I love how everyone is so into the games and keeps the party going through the streets long after the match is over. We're just happy we at least have one team to keep rooting for!

Go Deutschland!

Crowds filling the streets (cars stood no chance)

After a great win by Germany, we headed down the river to the Johannisfest - yet another summer festival filled with rides, art booths and lots of yummy food. A few of the guys from our group decided the brave the massive hammer-like ride that spun you upsidedown and around on the ends of a crazy tall pendulum. After all the drinking and heat exhaustion, we only figured that would end badly for us!

Um, no thanks!

We opted for a mild ride into hell. Unbeknownst to us, it ended up being a 3-D experience (that wasn't entirely three-dimensional after all) in which ghouls and other scary creatures unceremoniously spat water on us. At least we weren't getting sick from being spun upsidedown!

Oh wait, what aren't we supposed to do...?

While the fest offered some great goodies - honey popcorn, chocolate-covered kebabs of strawberries and pineapple, an artist's great Wiesbaden postcards I plan to frame for the bathroom - it was really just nice to enjoy some time relaxing with new friends, especially with a pina colada at a riverside beach bar after the sun started to go down. 

Sunset (around 10:30pm) over the tents of the Johannisfest

Can't wait for next weekend - Fourth of July! Just a little less humidity, please...

*Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische

Yes, we live here

June 28, 2010


Sometimes I have to pinch myself. This weekend was one of those times. Touring our region's wine country, watching Germany beat England with a huge group of rowdy German fans and attending yet another festival with new friends were the makings of a great weekend. It's hard to believe this is our life now, but it's definitely sinking in.

Saturday we headed to Rüdesheim with a colleague of my husband's to see the wine country and tour a castle. We started our day with taking the Seilbahn up the vineyard-covered hill, accompanied by a small bottle of sparkling wine and souvenir glasses. Already a good start to a beautiful day.

From the Seilbahn, we had about an hour trek to the next stop on the tour - the chair lift back down the hill. Throughout the forest at the top, there were lookout spots and old buildings and monuments all along the ridge, which offered amazing views and plenty of photo ops.

The descent on the chair lifts (also Seilbahn) was a little scary, but the amazing view coming down to the river more than made up for it. The fact that we were headed to "Assmannshausen" brought out a few chuckles - juvenile, yes, but we couldn't help ourselves. 

After a nice lunch in town (I had the most amazing thing: Schweinesteak Melba - pork with baked peaches & cheese on top with a creamy sauce. Yummy!), we hopped on the ferry to get over the river to the Burg Rheinstein for the next stop on the tour. 

View of the castle's church from the garden

Iron gate the lead down to the resting places of some of the royalty

"Welcome to my castle - now see all that I have killed!"

Very tiny, very scary stairway up to topmost tower overlooking the river

The view being royalty buys you 

All in all, it was the perfect day. It was a little warm, but between the shade of the forest and the occasional breeze over the river, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. And for €14 (yes, total: two Seilbahn rides, two ferry rides and a castle tour) what more could you ask for?

More tomorrow on the World Cup and Johannisfest...

*Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische

Wiesbadener Kunstsommer im Nerotal

June 24, 2010

It is always a pleasure to enjoy our nearest park - Nerotal - just blocks from home, but this week we've had an extra treat - summer art (kunstsommer) in the park. While neither of us are the biggest fans of modern art, it's always nice to have something else to appreciate in town.

Over the past few days, we've taken a few photos of the exhibits:

Thought for sure these were signs to keep pesky dogs like Bailey away from the art, but in fact they were the art themselves. The one on the right says something about charges for growing plants are removed, and the left one basically says to leave the park as you found it (I think).

These were two of our favorites (Bailey liked them too). Hope the yellow benches stick around after the exhibit is over.

Bailey's not so sure about the framed mounds of dirt. I'm not so sure about the "wolf in sheep's clothing," fur-covered tree. At least it all did what art is supposed to do - promote thinking and conversation.

On a side note - Germany and USA won their last matches this week and will proceed onto the next round. Go teams!

*Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische

June 15, 2010

USA v. England and . . . .      Germany v. Australia

Bring on the fußball! The excitement around the World Cup has been contagious - I've definitely become a fan! Aside from the amazing skills of the players, just being out with new friends and rooms full of strangers coming together for this worldwide sport has been amazing. Every bar, every cafe, everywhere has wheeled out big screens for watching the games. The Germany games are also being shown on the big screen at the Brita Stadium in town, which we plan to visit at least once.

The contrast between the games we watched, and specifically their fans, was surprising to me. The crowd for the USA game was much rowdier, but I suppose a lot of that had to do with the venue: we watched at a military sports bar, packed with probably all the US citizens and military in town. In contrast, the Germans can watch their own games just about any place, so just by sheer numbers, it was less intense. I also didn't notice a lot of Americans in our country's colors or wearing anything denoting national pride for our game. I think we were the only ones (I was sporting my red, white and blue I ♥ NY tee). The Germans on the other hand, show up, for the most part, with German flag tattoos, waving German flags and wearing black, gold and red flower leis. Saying they're a very prideful country would be an understatement.

I must say the Germans also keep the spirit going long after the game. After the Germany win on Sunday, the whole town was full of cheering people. Cars would honk and it's riders would hang out the window waving the German flag. The vuvuzelas (the long, annoying horns you hear throughout the game) were blaring well into the early morning hours. Perhaps after many wins, I will tire of the craziness, but for now it's nice to see an entire country come together in support of the same thing.

(when the national pride extends to food, count me in!)

While the World Cup spirit has infiltrated the town, unfortunately so has crummy early summer weather. Our SF term of "June gloom" doesn't even do it justice, especially when the gloom is accompanied by oppressive heat, rain, crazy lightening and some of the loudest thunder I've ever heard in my life. I'm counting down the days until June 21 and if it's not summer weather by the first official day, I'm boycotting.

I'm super excited about the rest of the week - starting German class, more new-friend get-togethers, more fußball, more fresh banana and melon ice cream, and I'm hoping, some sunshine! More soon ...

*Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische

June 06, 2010

Finally feeling like we are making some progress where we live! This week we not only signed up for our German classes (twice a week starting in two weeks; sadly only qualified for beginners level) but I finally found a way to meet more people: meetup groups online. I'm not sure what I was waiting for on either front, but I feel like a great weight has finally lifted. Yes, we will one day be able to effectively communicate fluently in German. And yes, we will have friends other than all the ones we left behind in California. 

These two advances kind of came together this Friday after our placement test and subsequent enrollment at the Inlingua offices. As we walked home, we came upon a wonderful festival filling the entire main street just a few blocks down from our apartment. Stumbling across something wonderful going on is something we've come to discover is not all that unusual and one of the things we absolutely love about living here. After seeing all the wonderful food and drink options, we swore to return the following day to enjoy all this fest had to offer. 

In a very serendipitous turn of events, I went home to find my first Wiesbaden meetup event invite: the following evening at the Wilhelmstrassen Fest. It ended up that we saw very little of the fest, but the people we met were nothing short of amazing: people who were raised in multiple countries; people here for more than a decade or only a few months; people from as far away as Australia and people who were back in their homeland of Germany after many years away. We were involved in engaging conversations with the group until the fest was literally shutting down at 1am. We even met two different people who had worked for companies based out of the town we left in the Bay Area. Sometimes it really does feel like it's a small world after all. 

One of my oldest and dearest friends recently had to reminded me how strong of a person I am. I often feel uncourageous in our new life - be it staying in rather than being brave and exploring on my own, or not asking the questions I'd like know the answer to because the words in German fail me - and I'm the first to kick myself for saying or doing something wrong. I know we've got a long way to go before we're really, truly settled in the way we'd like, but I feel like this week was a step in the direction of a very happy life here in Germany.

*Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische