Friday, December 30, 2005

What's the difference between Melbourne and Darmstadt?

About 44°C!!!!

I hear that it is around 40°C in Australia at the moment. So, to help you cool down a little, here are a few pics that we took while out for a walk this was around -4°C.

Searched for this little hut in the park forever. We were planning to have a cup of tea in the hut, but it took too long to find it, so we drank our tea elsewhere. We finally found it on our way home.

An old guy out for a walk on a cold winter's day.

Don't think they will be needing this for a few months...

This is where we drank our tea instead. Looked like a Munchkin Christmas Tree plantation. And look! There's a Munchkin in the trees now!

A 'Brush with nature...

Hope that helped you all cool down a little! :)


Thursday, December 29, 2005


Just a quick pick of us literally chillin' in Darmstadt. This was on the way to the supermarket, and is the first picture that I have been able to take with the camera since I charged it this afternoon.
David and Gwenda will hopefully recognise the jackets - THANKS! :)

Wanna get high?

Here are a few pics taken from the top of the Zugspitze. This is the highest mountain in Germany, and we were standing at about 2900m. The air was quite thin up here, and just a little bit of exertion made me want to fall down.
You can see from the pictures that it was a very overcast day in Garmisch (the town below), but once we took the Seilbahn up the mountain we broke through the clouds to a magnificent -12C Christmas day.

View from the top.

Another view from the top. Apparently you can see a number of countries from up here on a clear day. From here you could basically spit on Austria...but they are nice people, so we didn't.

How you doin'?

Belinda on top of the Zugspitze.

Es ist schön, oder?


Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Xmas & Happy New Year!

Wir wünschen euch schöne fröhliche Weihnachten, guten Rutsch, und ein gutes neues Jahr!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Zu schlange stehen, oder zu schlange stehen nicht. Das ist die Frage.

Ok, so the external perception of Germany is that it is a very strict and regulated country. All you have to do is picture the "Soup Nazi" in Seinfeld, and you know exactly what I mean.

I some cases this really is true. For example, when we moved here, we were first registered in Bad Homburg. Then we moved to Darmstadt a few days later, so we had to drag ourselves down to the Town Hall and register as living in Darmstadt. Every time you move you must do this.
Another example is with our license. Before we can go for the test we must:
1. Register ourselves with a driving school;
2. Do our eye test;
3. Do our first aid course;
4. Go to the town hall and register as a potential driver, with proof of the above.
Once all this is done, the town hall will eventually process our papers and send a letter to the driving school. When they receive it, then, and only then, can we make an appointment to sit the driving test.

So, will all of these stringent rules in mind, now let's have a look at the town hall. I believe we may have described this before, but I will recap here...
There is a long hallway with many doors down each side (picture Alice in Wonderland...). The doors have signs above them breaking the alphabet up into three parts A-K, K-... Fairly orgainsed so far. Look around for the queue...there isn't one! Everyone just waits in the hallway, and when one of the doors lights up with "Enter" it becomes a shit-fight to see who can get in there first!
It was like this again when we were doing the first aid course. This time it was a little different, because we formed an orderly queue to register for the course and the vision test. Then everyone went back into the hallway and waited. When the vision tests started, so did the shit-fight. Why not just process people in the order they signed up?!?!?!

Two steps left, one step forward, three steps right, one step forward....SHIT FIGHT!!!!

Das ist alles.


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I don't think B eats fish anymore...

One of the TV channels here - ProSieben - runs little documentaries throughout the night. While I was cooking dinner tonight there was a documentary on Christmas Carp. There seems to be a tradition in Germany that ppl have carp at their Weihnachts dinner....

Anyway, the documentary covered everything from the catching to the cooking of the carp...problem was that they decided that the best way to tell the story was to use animated carp. The main story teller was the grandpa carp who was explaining to the kiddy carp what will happen to them when they are caught etc... Every time he told them something bad, their little eyes would go really wide and look really scared! But then he would say Hab keine Angst... and then go on to justify something or other.

But that's not the worst of it...

Of course, they showed the carp being caught in the nets, being hauled onto the boat, being kept alive in little tanks on the boat, and then finally reaching shore. At shore they were transfered to tankers full of water that transported them to little farms where they were put in bigger ponds to swim around for a while (apparently it makes them taste better). All is looking good for the carp right now. Nice little retirement home in the country...plenty to eat...
Anyway, when it is "time", they dragnet the pool and get the carp out into plastic bin things full of water. Sure, it's a little crowded in here, but we are still alive! Kind of like living in New York...
Finally, I guess it is time for the carp to go to the big pond in the sky. So, how do you think they do it? Do you think they:

1. Take each one out one by one and thump them on the table until they are dead?
2. Wait until they are sleeping, and then smother them with a pillow?
3. Drain all the water out until they suffocate?
4. Call Dr Philip Nitschke for a nice Euthanasia Cocktail before bed?

If you answered "yes" to any of the above, you would be wrong.

Let's look at it from the point of view of the carp...
Phil: Hey! Stop pushing! There's plenty of room for everyone!
Barry: Hey Phil! What are you and the Missus planning to do for Christmas this year? Going anywhere interesting with the School?
Phil: Um...Barry. What's that wire mesh thing coming into the tank in front of us?
Barry: I dunno Phil, but there's another one being lowered in behind us!
Phil: Maybe it's to keep the Sharks away or something...
Barry: Then what is that red lead that is being attached to the mesh in front of us? And what about the black lead being attached to the one behind u...


And then silence....


One minute they are happily swimming in their crowded tank, and then ZAP! One minute we saw them as a happy swimming mass, and then ZAP! they were all completely still at the same time! It was really kind of disturbing.

I don't think B will ever eat carp again...

Ich werde für eine Woche nicht scheißen!

That right there is a Schweinshaxe...and not a very small one at that!

Am Dienstag habe ich nach Essen gegangen. Als ich dort war, habe ich eine Schweinshaxe gegessen. Die Schweinshaxe war zu groß... Ich werde für eine Woche nicht scheißen!

On Tuesday I went to Essen. When I was there, I ate a Schweinshaxe (leg of pork). The Schweinshaxe was too big... (I choose not to translate the next sentence...)


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Just out of interest...

Wer liest dieses Tagebuch?
Who reads this blog?


Sunday, December 11, 2005

Wie bitte?

This one is for Tansy and all the other German speakers out there...

Wie bitte?

Sometimes I am just too funny for my own good!

This week # 49

No this isn't the 49th time I have made an entry called 'this week', the Germans are a fan of using the week number when talking about weeks. Confusing when you aren't used to it but proabably easier than saying 'the week starting Dec 4' and I might do a few week updates when I have had a busy week to update those concerned about my daily doings.

This week, as is the recent plan, I volunteered at World Vision on Monday and Tuesday. The plan was to then volunteerat CBM for the next few days. CBM has offered me a temporay 3 day per week contract until the end of Jan, so once this is sorted then my wed-fri will be paid. On Tuesday however I got a phone call from HR at CBM telling me that there is a German law that says once a contract has been offered I cannot work or volunteer there until the contract is signed and the work permit issued (here job offer must be made then work permit is secured) so I wasn't allowed to volunteer this week. I understand that the law is there to protect me from being bullied into working for free, but I want to do something.

Tuesday morning I had dropped Brett at the airport for his day trip to Vienna and then driven to work for the first time. This turned out to be an adventure as the Nav system list 4 or 5 Friedrischsdorfs and none of them with the additional name 'am Taunus' that my Friedrischsorf has, and the few that I guessed didn't have the street, so after much screaming at the system while being double parked in arrivals and Brett returning from check-in to try to rescue me I had to enter another nerby town, Bad Homberg, and go from there. Because we had stayed in Bad Homberg initially I knew there were signs from there to Friedrischsdorf so I took a stab. Lucklily it worked, there were signs to F, but once I got there no signs to where I needed to go. I had gotten a lift home with someone one day and so I luckliy recognized one weird looking building and went from there. I was a bit strssed because I had to be on time that day as I had the office key because I was meant to beat my co-worker in. So after not being able to locate F, and a few missed turnoffs because the Nav lady can be very unclear I got there.

When I picked Brett up that night I told him about my phone call that I couldn't volunteer so we decided that I would tag along with him the rest of the week.

Wednesday we went to Nuremberg/Nürnberg. Lovely city, massive castle that we will have to return to so Brett can look at it properly, and reputedly the best Christmas market in all of Germany (I did't think it was that much better than Darstadt, just bigger - am I getting defensive of my town already?). I was also planning on going to the Nazi Paty Grounds/Reichspartei Gelande but when I got there and looked at the map I decided to skip it as its all outside and it was FREEZING and raining. Instead I spent the day looking around some very expensive shops pretending that I was actually interested in buying, trying shoes, clothes and jewlery on. It was great fun!!! The result of the day was a christmas present for Brett.

Thursday Brett was going to his office near Stuttgart so I tagged along and caught the train into Stuttgart. Regular readers will remember that we have looked around there already so I decided that I would relive the previous day's fun and again pretend I was loaded. All the shop people again were very helpful (even when I tried to say ' i wear...' by saying ''Ich ware, Nein, Ich treffe...' Afterward I relised my correction was also wrong I had said 'I was, No, I meet... ' Should have been Ich trage - which means both 'wear' and 'carry'.

So the result of that day was a Kookai jumper/Pulli for me for €30 reduced from €140. I love a bargin!! And Susan will be very happy - its a magneta colour - almost pink, not quite, but I am embracing colour. New ski pants for Brett which are a birthday present that he can have early (they have the removable overall section). New gloves for both of us for daily use as our hands have been freezing. Not quite so sucessful the second day with not spending, but all items were reasonably priced or on sale.

Friday we had German leasons and I did housework. While doing the housework I got mad at the pile of washing I had sorted, beacause it was in the way, and so I tried to kick it out of the way but was standing on the items that the kick connected with so manged to hurt my ankle quite well.

Brett spent all Saturday after our first aid lesson in bed because he has a cold.


Saturday, December 10, 2005

Erste Hilfer

Today we did our Erste Hilfer (first aid) course, which everyone has to do for their licence here (great idea but unfortunately no requirement to redo it - still better than never doing one though). The course though is only available in German, but we were assured that there was no test at the end, as long as you stay there all day (8am-3pm) you get the certificate. We were dubious but it turned out to be true. We now both have the necessary German first aid certificate for our licences.

Those of you who know me well (or have ever travelled or hiked etc with me) will know I have a bit of a thing about first aid, and I have done a few courses before, so this was actually interesting to see the differences. I will quickly note these for those very few of you who will care. While they may sound like criticisms I am open to the idea that perhaps they could be better methods, but I haven't yet seen why.

In Aus we are taught to check for DR ABC - Danger, Response, Airways, Breathing and Circulation.
This course differed:
1. Check for response by firmly shaking the shoulders - I think we did that in one of the first courses I ever did but that is now not recommended for spinal damage reasons - and in case they are actually conscious they might get mad. (We didn't check for Danger though, so we only have the R for Response so far.)
2. Check for breathing while they are lying on their back by opening the mouth, tilting the head back, and listening. I am sure I have always been taught to check breathing and that airways are clear when they are on their side in the recovery position. Doing it while they're on their side is helpful because anything in the mouth runs out rather than down the throat, and since if unconscious they need to be in that position either way. (So we covered the Breathing part of DR ABC, but not really the Airways part.)
3. Once breathing checked call for help, before putting them in the recover position. In the 10 minutes it takes you to make work out where you are, make the phone call and try to explain in bad German what has happened they have drowned in their own saliva. Also in every course I have done we have been told that you should help before leaving to call for an ambulance. I can see both sides of the when to call debate, but I guess you just have hope that you never find someone in need of help when you are alone, or that you always have a mobile and signal.
4. Getting someone into the recover position. Done very strangely, by putting the closest arm under their bum, a few other things, and pulling towards you - this largely resulted in pressing their face into the ground and a twisted back... hmmmmm. Obviously not the intention but what was happening.
5. CPR/EAR. As far as either Brett or I could understand we were never told to check the pulse (even after 12 minutes of CPR that we practised) and we weren't taught just EAR (breathing without heart compressions) so at some stage after calling for help you start CPR without checking for a pulse or clearing any airways. (So we also skipped Circulation). I am not sure if they are skipped in every course/never done, or if it was just this quick course.

We did however cover how to remove a motorbike helmet - which has disappointedly been skipped in almost every Aus course I have done.

And we also covered how to wrap some one who is lying down in a space blanket. A few times. I guess it’s a lot more important here with the snow and all, so it was nice to know, but I would have traded its repetitions for EAR or checking pulses.

Oh well.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Burg Hohenzollern

So this weekend we caught up with Christy (a friend from our time in CA) who was in Germany for a week on business.

We took her to Burg Hohenzollern, an amazing castle that I had visited when I came to Germany alone a few years ago. I have always wanted to take Brett to this castle as I knew he would love it. I just couldn't remember where it was or what it was called, only that it was on top of a hill, which doesn't narrow it down.

We finally found out what it was called, and we went there on Saturday
this is what it looks like in Summer (when I went last time)
this is what it basically looked like on the weekend
this is the hallway you see on the tour
the Queen's room
a big gun in the coutyard

In case you want to check it out, here is their website

We also went to Herrenerg, which is one of those gorgeous very German towns. It has the church and castle ruins at the top of the hill and then all this old houses are terraced down from the church.

Lots of love to all