Notes from a weekend in Paris

We recently got home from a fabulous long weekend in Paris, but I’ve been putting off blogging about it because I can’t think of anything to say. I mean, I could tell you about what we did, saw, and ate, but none of it seems particularly insightful, entertaining, or original. But hey, that doesn’t stop me from blogging on other days…

Paris is a big, dirty, stinky city, which means I greatly prefer it in the winter, when the grime feels less greasy and the smells are a little less smelly. The same goes for New York, Milan, London – pretty much any city big enough to have a subway system is better in the cold weather.

The forecast called for rain all weekend, so we figured we’d be spending a lot of time in museums. But the rain never really came, and we spent most of our days wandering aimlessly through the city. It’s nice to have a vacation without an agenda every now and then.

One of the things I love about Paris is its stylish, cozy little cafes. We went for wine and happy-hour cocktails rather than beer (which costs 8 euros a glass here – quite a difference from Munich). Mmmmm wine.

One other detail I will mention is the hotel we stayed in, Hotel Relais Bosquet, which was clean, well-located and a good value. We could even see the Eiffel Tower when we stuck our heads out the window.

I’ll let the photos tell you the rest. Paris was a great place to play with our new camera. More here.

Obama loves German reality TV

While I’m glad that the Germans adore Obama as much as I do, I found this to be a little much (it’s the intro for DSDS, the German version of American Idol).

To quote David Sedaris, get your own black president!

Celebrating the new president, expat-style

Oh happy day! While I decided against attending the Munich Inaugural Ball, I definitely felt the need to celebrate yesterday. So I threw a little party of my own, and soaked up the inauguration with some American and European friends. Obama’s swearing-in was at 6:00 pm our time, perfect for some champagne prosecco toasting.

We also enjoyed some American-themed foods, such as this patriotic cake made by Heza. Had I had access to an American party-supply store, I might have had fun going over the top with the decoration; as it was we made do with American flag napkins and toothpicks, and some patriotic balloons.

The party is over but my heart is still filled with joy at the direction my country is taking. As an American abroad, today I feel I can hold my head a little bit higher.

Skiing Kitzbühel

Thinking back on last ski season, we’re having a hard time remembering all the places we skied and which ones we liked the best. So this year I’m going to try blogging a little review of each place.

First up is Kitzbühel, Austria, where we recently spent a day. It’s about an hour and a half drive from Munich. It was a great place to spend the first ski day of the season, since there were tons of blue (easy) slopes. We skied the whole day and only repeated the same runs a couple times; on the other hand, neither of us found any runs we really loved. Things were icy in spots, since there hadn’t been any new snow for several days; the skies were clear and blue, and it was quite warm in the sun. We had lunch at the Pengelstein hut, which offered a pretty good variety of food (I had spinach strudel with Gorgonzola sauce).

After a day on the slopes, we headed into the town of Kitzbühel to find some food and drinks. The town itself was quite cute, and offered a variety of cafes and restaurants (mostly Italian).

We wandered into the tourist office and asked for a restaurant recommendation. They suggested Huberbräustüberl, a cozy little brewery restaurant serving typical Austrian/German food. The beer was good and the food adequate. The wait staff was friendly and seemed to have fun speaking English to the tourists around us (we spoke to them in German). Both of us filled up on dinner, so we had to miss out on the black guy in a shirt. Schade.

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My computer situation is still… not good, but hopefully that won’t last too much longer. I have plenty more blog posts that are just aching to come out…

Europeans traveling to the US, listen up

I’m not ignoring you, lovely blog readers; it’s just that I’ve had a bit of a computer malfunction. No access to photos makes Jul a sad panda.

In the meantime, while I’m waiting for my sexy IT department to resuscitate the computer, I figured I’d pass along this important info that I recently saw on James’s blog. As of January 12th, many foreign visitors (including Germans and many other Europeans) traveling to the US will have to start registering online three days in advance of their trip. Yes, it sucks. But it would probably suck even more to show up to the airport and find out that you’re not allowed to fly because you didn’t know about it… so spread the word.

skating the canals

Just when you think you’ve discovered all the groovy things about Munich, something new comes along. Like skating on frozen canals in front of a palace. Which is pretty much the coolest thing ever. OK, one of them.

Half of Munich seemed to be out on the Schloss Nymphenburg canals today, skating, walking, and playing Eisstockschießen, a mix between curling and bocce which clearly doesn’t count as a sport as it can be performed while wearing a full-length fur coat.

We skated down the canal to the end, stopping for a refreshing glass of glühwein before making the return journey. Along the way there are two bridges to skate under which require a little bit of ducking, unless you’re a kid or a midget.

The air was cold but the sun was shining, and the activity of skating kept us warm enough (most of the time, anyway). The whole scene looked like something from an old painting, where the women would be wearing long dresses and muffs while skating.

It was one of those days that will not easily be forgotten.

Saying goodbye to the holidays… finally

It seems like it has been Christmas forever here in Munich, what with the markets starting in late November and all. Yesterday finally marked the end of the season with Three Kings Day (also known as the 12th day of Christmas, not that I noticed any particular increase in drumming), which is a holiday here in Bavaria. And a perfect excuse to get together with friends for a little food and drink. And this weather is perfect for keeping excessive amounts of beer and wine cold, as illustrated in the fancy gutter fridge above (Need a new beer? Open any window!).

The only thing I know about celebrating Three Kings Day is that it involves cake (and not frankincense, as one might be led to believe by certain stories). Different regions of the world have their own versions of a king cake, but what they all seem to have in common is the hidden choking hazard awaiting the “winner”. This year we celebrated with the French kind of king cake, and it was unusually delicious: flaky pastry with an almond filling… and a turtle. Whoever got the turtle in her piece had to sing a song in French* and then was rewarded with a lovely paper crown.

So, no more holidays for a long while. What now? Guess it’s time to start skiing.

* Yes, the chorus of ‘Lady Marmalade’ totally counts.

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