Wild von Wald

October 21, 2011

Luchse und Schweine und Bären - oh my!

I have been anxious to go to the Fasanerie since Frau Dietz told me about it many months ago and a few weekends ago there was enough of a break in the rain for us to finally go. The rain stayed mostly at bay, but what killed us was the decision to walk all the way there - more than 5km (uphill!). The walk around the park (more uphills!) was almost ruined by the Jell-O-feeling in my legs, but the furry critters helped keep my mind off my pathetically out-of-shape state.

The forest road to the Fasanerie

What I loved about the Fasanerie was that, unlike animal parks and zoos I've seen before, this was actually set in the woods, as opposed setting up an artificial habitat, which seemed to result in happier wildlife. Rather than the poor animals being carted halfway around the world and forced to live in a place not to their liking just so people can gawk and take photos, it appears as though these animals were all native to the area - or at least, very nearby - and the appropriate fences were just put up around them to keep the top of the  food chain from eating the bottom of the food chain and to allow petting and feeding access to those animals that wouldn't eat little children.

Perhaps it was my exhaustion making me impatient, but I was eager to head straight for the big, scary animals (the wolves and bears). Something made me stop in my tracks en route to the outer edges of the park: the Waschbär. First, I had no idea this was the name for the raccoon in German. Second, I thought they didn't exist over here. I had come to rather miss those pesky animals that used to scratch their way up our fence outside our bedroom window every night, at all hours, and prowl around looking for food in our California back yard - and now here was one! I thought raccoons in the states were portly, but this guy was positively tubby. They must have had him on a similar diet to the 'coons we knew so well: spilled dogfood and garbage. 

I was also thrilled to see wooden animals for children to play on, conveniently stationed next to the real animals they represented. Germans have a thing for wooden playthings - filling everything from playgrounds to toy stores. Aside from looking so charming and old-school, I love that the culture here still appreciates the simple things and doesn't feel the need to overstimulate children to the point of inflicting ADD. No blinding colors and artificial animal sounds to disturb the peacefulness of this wooded animal sanctuary.

The 'big and scary' animals provided a little excitement, but the wolves remained much less showy than the bears. I only caught a glimpse of one's fluffy tail as he sneaked through the forest. The bears were a bit smaller and less exciting than I'd imagined them to be, one even excusing himself up the hill to sit behind a tree and do his business (which of course brought to mind that famous analogy about what a bear does in the woods...). 

By far the most exciting were the Büffel - wooly, enormous and just a wee bit scary (especially considering that tiny, three-wire fence that separated us). This big 'un seemed harmless enough, but she did keep eyeing us in such a way that made you wonder what was going on in that buffalo head. Perhaps we looked like lunch, or perhaps we just looked like ridiculous staring contest partners. Either way, she got bored after not too long and went on her way. The best thing about her though....

... she was a Rasta Büffel, sporting a very long and impressive dreadlock. I overheard the German family next to us say something about the 'Rasta' as well. It's nice to know some things know no language bounderies.

*Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische

Two years ago today...

October 14, 2011

We were starting our journey, not only as husband and wife, but also knowing that in a matter of weeks our new lives overseas would be just beginning. We had no idea exactly what we were in for, but in the excitement of our marriage we were ready for anything. Even our wedding day was a bit of an adventure - flying to other side of the country to be married in New York's Central Park (a place I had never been to until that trip). The sentiment of new beginnings and places continued when shortly thereafter (two weeks for my husband, eight weeks for me), we moved our whole life - dog included - across the Atlantic to start a new life in a country where we could only speak a few words of the language. Like our German, our marriage has made great progress and undergone many adventures, but we still have so much to learn and so much to experience. 

Here's to the two years we've spent so far - and to many more!

Wedding photography by Augie Chang

*Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische

Some local exploring

October 11, 2011

Burg Eppstein

In light of the holiday last Monday, we decided to get out and take advantage of an extra day off with some exploring of our nearby towns. Autumn was officially getting started, but the weather was pure summer - hot and sunny. While the dog was certainly game for exploring some new places, her black perma-fur coat made it tough for her to do much more than collapse at first sign of shade. Not that we weren't too far behind her.  

My husband had seen a castle in Eppstein on his way through one time and suggested we go there. We spent a few hours walking around the town, enjoying the atmosphere and then up to the castle itself. It still amazes me to see modern-day life so nonchalantly surrounding such a notable structure from the 10th century. On our walk down the hill through town, we saw a little boy playing in his yard that sloped down to the perfect view of the castle and envied that childhood.  

With a little time still before we had to be back in town for dinner with friends, we drove a bit further into the mountains and discovered another more modern Burg towering over the valley. It turned out to be more recently claimed for doctors' offices, art studios and a restaurant, but the view from it was stunning. All in all, a pretty perfect autumn day. 

*Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische

IAA (Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung) - the 64th Frankfurt Auto Show

October 07, 2011

My favorite car from the show - a gorgeous Wiesmann

What began as an outing idea that I was certain would be catered disproportionately to my husband, ended up being just as enjoyable of an experience for me - and so we ended up the other weekend at the IAA, or the 64th Frankfurt Auto Show. While my husband is not what I'd call a car fanatic, he is a man, and that somehow means he can spout off all kinds of stats about cars I know nothing about. I, on the other hand, mostly like cars for their aesthetics, and of course how they handle when it comes down to actually investing in one. The city-size scale of this event meant there was plenty there to keep us both happy.

The colors, the displays - it was like the Disneyland for car-lovers

Being the auto show of the year, we figured it would be pretty big and impressive, but nothing prepared us for the sheer size of the show and the incredible effort put into the showrooms - and that's before even getting to the cars themselves. We figured a few hours would be enough time to see what we wanted without getting overwhelmed - boy, were we wrong! At the end of the day, we departed with a lasting sense of wonder and a sadness for all that we didn't get to see.

The main attractions, of course, were those crazy concept automobiles. In the world of cars, it's fun to dream about what's possible - and at IAA, car makers create the reality. Some are crazy-ridiculous for real life (like Peugeot's 'Batmobile') and some are much more feasible (like the Land Rover - which reminded me of Toyota's FJ Cruiser that went into production after the overwhelming response when it was shown as just a concept), but they are all amazing to look at. Here, a few of the coolest concepts we saw:


Land Rover




Of course, being of the feminine persuasion, I couldn't help but be attracted to cars for their cuteness and sense of fun. Disco balls and collaborations with the likes of Gucci and Fendi didn't hurt either.  

Gucci's Fiat 500

Toyota's Disco in the front...

... and DJ in the back

The new Mini Cooper

Beyond the cars, the atmosphere was just amazing. Germany can be a little austere and lacking in creativity for those of us who value design (beyond just for utilitarianism, of course), and so it was such a treat to see all the amazing effort put into impressing people at the show.

From simple flooring and seating design...

...to the massive displays like a life-size (or rather, movie-size) Transformer

Honda's colorful, creative displays

Two of my favorites were BMW and Mini. Both had immense, amazing spaces that boggled the mind. BMW was massive compared with a lot of other manufacturers, but also had an impressive amount of automobiles - everything from the old models driving around a raised track to several new, very cool-looking concepts. Mini was of course representative of all things young, social and interactive. The only thing I regret is not asking the girls working the Mini booth to take a photo with me, since we just so happened to match in our red pants and dark tops. I did have a brief moment of panic when I realized this though, hoping that no one approached me to ask questions, in German no less, about the cars.   

Old model BMWs making their way around a raised track above the showroom

We got to take silly photos of ourselves at the Mini booth & have them displayed for all to see

Oops - I looked like I belonged as part of the Mini presentation

I do have to say that I think the organizers of the event missed a huge opportunity with the females in attendance. The men had the cars - no to mention all the lovely ladies posing next to said cars - to enjoy, but the women, unless they were automobile fanatics, were really just along for the ride. I'm not sure whether it's the girly-girl or former marketing-maven in me, but I felt there was an obvious opening that no one thought to take advantage of. 

I was so struck by the amazing colors and sparkling finishes on the cars, I had to wonder why the manufacturers didn't team up with a nail polish brand and have stations where one could get a manicure, or better yet, buy a bottle of limited edition polishes to match these brand new automobiles. I know I couldn't help but fall in love with several gorgeous paint jobs and photograph them in the hopes of finding similar polishes somewhere...

So it was with heavy hearts that we departed for the day, remembering all the amazing things we had seen. While I wished had left with some of those unbelievable car colors bottled for future manicure use, I was satisfied with my super-cool, tech-y t-shirt to commemorate the occasion, as well as the most hilarious vending machine sighting at the Messe/Laatzen subway station.

The U-Bahn keepin' it classy with its vending machine offerings

For all you car enthusiasts, I leave you with the grand daddy of all the cars I saw: the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport L'Or Blanc. My husband went on and on about how fast it can go (ridiculously fast) and how much it costs (ridiculously expensive), but it mostly fell on deaf ears. What can I say - once again, I just liked the paint. :)

*Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische