Flittering around Finland

I have more to tell you about Estonia, but I think that will have to wait until we get home. For now we are busy taking in Finland.

My favorite bits so far have included the local fashion (you can really imagine Lordi coming from this country) and the copious amounts of free ice water provided in restaurants.

Also intriguing is the fact that the sky doesn’t get completely dark until after midnight. It’s almost impossible for me to guess what time it is at any given moment (unless it is really, really dark out – then I can at least narrow it down to about a 3-hour window).

Estonia gets medieval on our asses

Greetings from Tallinn. We’ve only been here a few hours, but already we are feeling butterflies in our stomachs for this insanely adorable city. The mixture of extremely-well-preserved medieval and recently-updated buildings is irresistible, despite the fact that the place is teeming with tourists.  Continue reading

Reasons to learn English

Oldies but goodies – a couple language school commercials.

If you have the sound turned on, this next one is NSFW. If you don’t have the sound turned on, it’s not worth watching.

Sligo and more Irish coast

What a lovely Irish weekend we just had – cute towns, sandy beaches, and dramatic cliffs punctuated by heavy but tasty food and creamy ales. Life is good.

Our first stop was Sligo, a small city in northwest Ireland. The guidebooks had mixed things to say, but we found Sligo to be a very nice place to spend an afternoon wandering around. It was a town with personality.

When the B&B; we booked fell through, we went for a last-minute room at The Glass House in the middle of Sligo. The funky architecture makes for some lovely rooms, even if they are starting to wear a little around the edges. We lucked out and got the top corner room, giving us two giant window-walls from which to enjoy the view (and the late-night fireworks).

Sligo had plenty of charming, reasonably-priced cafes and bars (including Garavogue), but all the restaurants we checked out seemed ridiculously expensive. We had a fabulous time watching the drunken locals over a pub dinner at The Ark Bar, and then retired to our room early to watch Norway sweep the Eurovision. Poor Germany couldn’t even be helped by Dita von Teese.

The next day we enjoyed a big Irish breakfast before heading north along the coast into County Donegal. The drive brought us into a Gaeltacht, or region where Irish is the primary language spoken. But we heard a lot more baaing then speaking while we were there.

We also drove past several peat bogs.

Our main destination was Slieve League, reportedly the highest cliff face in Europe. The sun kindly came out for a couple hours so we could enjoy the view. While not as tidy and regular as the more famous Cliffs of Moher, these cliffs were still quite striking.

On our way back to Dublin we stopped in Cavan to find some dinner, and lucked out with our choice of The Black Horse, which had the most delicious pub grub I’ve ever eaten.

Piran: Slovenia’s coast

If you look at a map of the area, you’ll see that Slovenia really lost out to Croatia and Italy when it came to divvying up coastline. At least they have Piran, one of the loveliest seaside towns I’ve seen in a while.

Early May seemed like a good time to visit, since the town was lively but not yet overrun with the high-season tourists.

We spent our time in Piran wandering through the narrow, winding streets and enjoying the exquisite views available from all sides of the small peninsula. There were plenty of seaside cafes and restaurants from which to take in the view, as well.

Regensburg: dults and other diversions

This weekend we hopped on a train up to Regensburg to party with the Regensbloggers. Their housewarming party conveniently coincided with the Regensburger Dult, an adorable little city fair complete with beer tents, disturbing rides, carnies, and strange shopping opportunities. I was surprised to see that it was bigger than the Auer Dult, and almost as big as Munich’s Frühlingsfest. The youth of Regensburg were out en masse, many of them wearing the most colorful tract I’ve ever seen.

A highlight of the weekend was finally getting to meet That Queer Expatriate live and in person. We had a fabulous time chasing a belederhosened emo boy around the dult together (see his blog for pics) and shopping for gingerbread hearts.

Naturally we were overcome with a feeling of deep patriotism upon seeing this ride:

Back at the party, we learned how to make awesome capa capra copu caipirinhas while marveling over the fact that in Germany, bags of ice come with instructions.

Ask the Expat: search term edition

Most ‘Ask the Expat’ inquires come to me as comments or emails from readers. These, however, come in the form of search terms that bring people to my blog. Gotta love site stats.

american gaydar doesn’t work in europe
Yes and no. If your gaydar is set to detect mainly visual cues, then well-dressed Italian men and German women with short haircuts are likely to give you a barrage of false positives. But with a bit of fine tuning (and a voltage converter), you’ll find that your American gaydar can become useful in Europe, too.

german and american life difference
This one is easy. In Germany, the beer, public transportation and unemployment benefits are better. The Mexican food, friendliness of people, and availability of ice are worse.

mexican food in germany
Is not worth your time (see previous answer).

reality tv germany
Not as sophisticated as the American version. Although one can watch Flavor of Love and Rock of Love here, Germany has thus far failed to produce compelling equivalents. In the meantime we entertain ourselves with Germany’s Next Top Model and DSDS.

what kind of job can an american have in europe
Well, you can be a runway model coach, or a revered pop icon. Those are basically the only two options I can think of.

expat basel blog
Try The Big Finn.

swiss view on nudity
Well, I hear that from the men’s restroom at the Bauschänzli in Zurich, one has a view of the topless sunbathers next door at the Frauenbad.

how did the hair dryer change american life
Um, it made it fluffier, and more blown out?

should i move to zurich
Maybe.

swiss german horrible people
No, not all of them.

waste time internet
Impossible!


Ask the Expat is a new feature I’m trying out here at the blog. If you have a question for me, go to this post to find out how to submit it.