Saturday, June 25, 2011

Rachel in Rothenburg ob der Tauber

One of my favorite places to take our guests is the walled city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, about an hour and 45 minutes from our house.
It is such an enchanting medieval town that has been excellently maintained over the years and has an intact wall encircling the entire town.
Rachel and I headed there yesterday and she loved it too.
Leslie from Louisiana was my first guest to go there, so I always remember her when I go.
I love the "accidental" finds that one makes on trips. We were looking for the WC and went inside this door near the Rathaus.
We ended up going up this incredible old and progressively narrower staircase (all the while I am thinking "where is the toilet already"!!!) and came out what looked like a submarine hull but which actually was the top of the bell tower!! What an awesome view of Rothenburg.
Sweet Rachel is off to Munich today and then Barcelona and back to Australia in a few weeks. It will be fun to reminisce about her time in Germany when we see her next.
Family is so important. We love and pray for our families in Australia and the US at least once a day. Have a lovely weekend and God bless!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Battle of the Fraternities

Today is a public holiday in Germany (they have a lot of those here; poor Zev only gets the American public holidays off though!!). As cousin Rachel is visiting from Australia, I decided to take her down to my university town of Tübingen, to watch the annual Battle of the Fraternities (ie: "Stockerkahnrennen"), which is a race on punt boats along the Neckar River in Tübingen.
I love having my cousin Rachel around. We reminisced a little on the car ride down to Tübingen and I told her that when we were very very little (I think I was 3 or 4 and she was 4 or 5), I remember being distinctly impressed by her white sandals with flower cut outs in them. (See Zev, I have had a passion for nice shoes since a very young age! Ha.) I also love Rachel´s gorgeous, curly hair!
I actually ran into a few of my LLM classmates in Tübingen yesterday, and we organized an impromptu get together to watch the race today.
Everyone from the LLM class except 3 members met up in Tübingen this morning and my German classmates, Laura and Philip joined us also.
There were SO many people in Tübingen today (mostly students, as you can tell from the jeans!)
There were some very interesting costumes and "boat scapes" including this one above, that seemed to me to represent a Louisiana Steamboat!???
This boat of the "Royal Wedding" was one of my favorites. They even sang "God Save the Queen" (with cute German accents!) as they went by!
This IS a university town, and so of course there were the "political" punt boats...
The rain held off which was nice. We giggled at the funny costumes and cheered the boats on when they raced by.
Once the race started, the participants had to use their hands to paddle, which made it interesting!
There were a couple of "close calls".....
I have never seen so many people in downtown Tübingen!
After the race, Rachel and I had lunch in the historic Old Town.
Tomorrow we head to the walled city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
Hope that you have a good weekend!
Love, Fi xo 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Small church, Big message

This morning in church, we heard from the Pastor of a very small church (20 church participants on a "good" Sunday) from Ceske Budejovice in the Czech Republic. Our church, International Baptist Church of Stuttgart has partnered with this little Baptist church in the Czech Republic, which only started up in 2001. It seemed that there were about 15 Czech participants there this morning (so about 75% of their congregation!) Our Pastor, Pastor Packer, explained how the Czech Republic has the highest rate on Atheists in all of Europe. There are not many Christians in the Czech Republic. It was very humbling to hear the Pastor of the Czech church speak to us (through Peter, the interpreter!) and to tell us how encouraging it was to see a "big" Christian church at work in Germany. It was humbling because most of us just come to church service on Sunday and try to walk the Christian walk during the week. I am not saying that this is not enough, but compared to the hardships of actually practicing one´s faith in other parts of the world, we really have it relatively "easy" in Germany, or indeed in the USA or Australia. Friends and family who have visited us and our church will know that our church here is not that "big" when compared to churches in the US or Australia. Zev and I had a few words with Peter "the Czech Interpreter" after service. We asked him how long he and the team would stay in Germany. He responded "we have to drive back after lunch. You know, to get back to work and school." I think we were both touched by the love and enthusiasm and humility from the Czech congregation and their hope for the future. Their pastor preached from one small verse in Titus 2:11:
"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men."

The words after this verse teach us to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives and not to get caught up in the worldy things which are just that: worldy. Life is so short and precious. Being gracious and actually "walking the walk" in every aspect of our lives is what it´s about, isn´t it? Not just on Sundays, but every day. I am going to start with today. And then pray about this tomorrow and the next day....
Have a good week friends! 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Tale of Two Noves

So I haven´t mentioned this part of our trip, because it´s only now that I have been able to "laugh" about it. One place which is on the "must see" list of every military wife that travels down to the Vicenza area of Italy, is to visit the town of Nove, which produces ceramics and porcelains that are sold by stores such as Tiffany & Co, Williams Sonoma and Lenox. A lot of wives stock up on dinner sets and other items from the ceramic factory outlets in the town of Nove. Prior to leaving Germany, I asked Zev if we could make a detour to Nove (using the logic that it was close to the Army base of Vicenza where we needed to make a stop anyway) and he graciously agreed to go there (even knowing that it was highly likely that we would be buying things when we got there).  
The drive through the Dolomite Mountain Ranges was actually quite picturesque. We just followed the TomTom´s directions to "Nove, Italy."

As you can see above, the town of Nove that we finally reached after meandering through the Dolomite Mountain Ranges did NOT have any ceramic shops. Zev then turned to me and (calmly) asked if I had an actual address to navigate to. I did. So I entered it into the TomTom. It was two hours away from the town of Nove. Hmmmm. Tip for young players traveling through Europe: ALWAYS enter in a precise address. Preferably one with a postcode. Apparently, there are more than one Noves in Italy....who knew!?
We finally did reach the "right" Nove; at the end of our trip. We decided to drive there (again, via Vicenza) and were so glad (well I was relieved) when we finally reached it.
Oh the decisions! They actually had chairs out the front for the husbands to sit on, while they waited.
Thankfully, Zev didn´t have to wait for long. He was also very helpful in providing some good advice on designs! We are glad to be home. There really is no place like home.
So there you have it. A Tale of Two Noves. Quite a Shakespearian Tragedy (or should that be Love Story?) don´t you think?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Modena and Parma

I have had to combine Modena and Parma into one blog entry because the internet connections in our previous hotels has been shaky.
Italy is known for great food, fine and fast cars and great shoes and clothes, but I can't say that internet connections or strong showers can be attributed to Italy's fame. Zev likes fast cars...... 
So yesterday we spent another wonderful day in Modena, home to Balsamic Vinegar, AWESOME porcini mushroom risotto, which I had the pleasure of enjoying at lunch and of course, FERRARI autos.
Yes, Mr. Ferrari as well as Mr. Maserati and other auto enthusiasts apparently grew up in this area which is now fondly known as "Auto Valley."
We stumbled across a great restaurant in a side alley in Modena called "Restaurant Danieli." I had the best porcini mushroom risotto I have ever experienced in my life; I have been raving about it ever since and actually had a DREAM about it. Yes indeed. Bon Appetit advised to eat and drink stuff that is locally produced in Italy and that is exactly what we have been doing on this trip. Porcini mushrooms are a speciality in Modena and this risotto show cased them perfectly. Zev had tortellini and the Osso Bucco and we enjoyed a local Spumante. Now I see why both our families enjoy this sparkling red wine; it is so refreshing on a hot summer's day!
So Modena was fun. And beautiful and old and historic and warm and the food was great and the company (my awesome husband) was simply perfect. Zev and I have repeatedly said to each other that this is one of the best, most relaxed holidays EVER. So low key. And yet so enjoyable. After lunch we headed out to the Ferrari museum and then enjoyed some of the best, creamiest gelato we have ever tasted at a local "gelateria" and ended the day at a local park, just listening to music and enjoying a "Negroni"which was made with the typically Italian liqueur, Campari.
Today we travelled to Parma, home of Prosciutto, Parma ham, and Parmiagiano- Reggiano cheese. We had good intentions to go and visit the salami museum, as well as the Prosciutto and Parmiagiano cheese museums, but they were each about half an hour away from each other and we really wanted to explore the historic downtown, so we headede to the supermarket, picked up some local specialties and a slice of pizza for lunch and then headed downtown to watch the locals go about their day. Simple and yet fun things to do!
The prices were good too!
We thought that this Milk Dispenser (1 euro for a litre of milk) was cool. Literally and figuratively.
Each hotel and restaurant has one of these....a bidet. Leslie from Louisiana, what do you think of this one!? Miss you, girl!
We saw so many ladies wearing SKY HIGH stilettos and walking across the cobblestoned streets, or even better, riding bicycles. I "stealthily" took this picture without it seeming obvious.
I like this picture. I love how my Zev is wearing his red back pack, socks with crocks and is so happy just walking along, swinging his arms, while the Italian guy next to him is looking serious and well, typically Italian! Black pants, white shirt and tie. Italian men like their black pants and white shirts I think....
Can you see the four monks in the background? They were young monks, too!
We went in this door...
I love to travel. Whether it is in Europe, or our next destination in Virginia. Zev and I are already checking out historical places to visit at our next posting. The point is, you have places to explore from exactly right where you are. Go explore. Walk down a new street and just watch people go by. Take pictures of something new. I bet that these people don't stop to realize how beautiful their bike riding looks...
On that note, Zev just turned to me and said "It's 10.30 at night. We need to go get gelato." How DOES this man know the right words to say? The language of love I tell you.
Hasta manana!