Sunday, January 18, 2009

Skiing in the Black Forest

You've heard of Black Forest cake, Hansel and Gretel and cuckoo clocks right? Well, we are very blessed to live close by to the Black Forest and yesterday we decided to drive right into the heart of the Black Forest to the highest peak of "Feldberg" (which has an elevation of 1,493 metres- you can see from the pictures below that we actually visited the peak- and Zev tried not to fall off the side of the mountain)....Feldberg is is not far from the Swiss and French borders with Germany, hence the variety of skiers including people from France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and even Australia (we heard some Aussie accents on one of the chair lifts)! The weather was gorgeous (sunny skies, no rain or extreme wind) and the skiing was fabulous. The drive took us only about 2 hours from door to door and it was nice to experience skiing in Germany. Although the ski runs were not as challenging as the Austrian Alps, there were a lot of diverse runs and we enjoyed exploring. Fi actually enjoyed the skiing in the Black Forest ("Schwarzwald") better than the skiing in Austria because the slopes were gentler and the snow was more powdery and not as icy as St. Anton. Zev gave Fi some really good skiing tips (like having her own personal ski instructor all day!) and Zev even showed Fi some cool tricks of his own. We took some little videos (Fi's voice sounds a little distorted but perhaps that is due to some wind interference on the microphone), including a video of Zev showing Fi "how it's done". Be sure to hit "PLAY," watch, listen and enjoy! We miss all our family and friends and pray that you are all doing well. Love and hugs! Zev and Fi xoxoxo

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Chooke's Visit

We were honored to host our dear friend Brooke ("Chooke") who stopped in to visit us last week on her way back to Australia, after visiting Canada and the States. Bhooke and Fi lived in the same corridor at the Academy and hadn't seen each other in at least 5 years, but they wasted no time catching up and laughing over memories, especially related to playing soccer. We ate dinner one night in our local neighborhood "castle," (the Burg), where Brooke tried some typical "Swaebisch" dishes. Brooke and Fi also visited the castles at Ludwigsburg (which was covered in snow) and ate their packed lunch on the front porch of Favorite Schloss (the castle above with the orange/ yellow coloring), overlooking the main castle. Pretty special. Thanks for visiting, Brooke!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Happy New Year 2009!

We hope that everyone had a happy and safe New Year's Eve and that God blesses you all in this coming year. New Year's Eve is called "Silvester" here in Germany, and what an event it is! We spent "Silvester" with Fi's friend, Adele, from her German class, Adele's husband, Romain, and her friends from France. Most of the French guests also spoke English but we had fun trying to understand one another and use a lot of "sign language" to communicate. We were treated to a traditional 5 course French meal, beginning with Foie Gras and Gelee, followed by Duck and Potato Gratin and Green Beans, and finished with a cheese course (wonderful cheeses from France!)
One of the highlights of the evening was watching the fireworks from the top floor of Adele's apartment- it is so hard to describe in words what we saw but basically we had a bird's eye view of hundreds of homes around Stuttgart letting off fireworks in every direction. Unlike most places, the city does not put on the fireworks, but the people do. About a week before New Years, suddenly fireworks go on sale everwhere, even the corner grocery store. At midnight, every one goes wild with an amazinly vast display of pyrotechnics shooting up from every nook and cranny in the city. The fireworks "display" went on for about 20 minutes, it was incredible. And these were decent fireworks too-some pretty amazing stuff, but the sheer volume in 360 degress around us was the best part. No fires, but there were plenty of fireworks bouncing off buildings, roofs, and trees. The amount of empty launcers, rockets, and casings littering the streets the next day ws equally impressive. However, in good Teutonic precision, most of it was all swept up by midday. But, there is still a big black smudge on the outside of one of our secoond story windows and some burnt rockets I the roof courtesy of some neighbiorhood punks... I am already starting a firworks saving for next year. I will not be watching from the window for 2010!
All the best for this coming year, Zev and Fi xoxoxo

One day ski trip to St. Anton

We went skiing in St. Anton, which is in the Austrian Alps last Saturday. We went on a one day ski trip organized by the "Outdoor Recreation" folks on base. Although it was nice to have someone else drive us there and back (and we were exhausted by the end of the day!), we will probably just drive ourselves down next time. The weather was beautiful, the sun was out and there was plenty of snow. The ski resort of St. Anton is part of a group of 5 resorts which are all connected by ski lifts- 85 lifts in total! We just stuck to the skiing in St. Anton which (for Fi) was challenging enough! (The "easy" runs here are like intermediate/ hard runs back in Australia- no wonder Europeans are such good skiers!) Even though Zev hadn't skied since Australia, he took to the snow like a pro and even attempted some really difficult runs while Fi took a break at the cafe on the mountain. All in all, a good taste of what skiing in Europe is all about!