Sunday, September 27, 2009

Our "German family"

Lea, Liv and the affe.

We arrived in Stuttgart on Wednesday afternoon. Martin met Curt and me in Munich late Tuesday morning. We hung out and then the guys went to a football match. Tuesday morning we had breakfast and then drove to Stuttgart.
When we arrived Stefan and Sandra were also there for lunch. Simone went to pick Lea (4-year-old) from school. Lea was shy at first. She knew that Curt and I didn't speak German and she had told her mom that she wouldn't be able to talk to us, which I felt bad about. I wish we would have learned a little more German before we arrived.
Soon after lunch Liv (1 1/2-year-old) woke up from her nap. She was hesitant of us at first. But that didn't last long. She learned my name pretty quick and would yell it out often over the next few days. (She also has this great cheesy grin she loves to give a lot. I don't think I ever actually got a shot of it.)
It was much easier for me (and us) to communicate with Liv than Lea. There were no conversations with Liv--mostly one or two words. And I learned her language and her knowledge of German pretty quick. There were times I wasn't sure if she was speaking German or baby. HA!
We did give the girls books about San Francisco in English. And we also brought Lea two kid music CDs in English. Lea is figuring out what "speaking English" means and I think is excited to learn. It was funny hearing those songs again, like Hokey Pokey, Oh Susannah, Three Blind Mice, etc. She said she really like the music. And you could tell with the dancing, turning up of the music and her running to the speaker to listen closely to certain songs. She told her dad she liked the music and that in school she would learn to speak English and from the CDs she would learn to sing in English.
Later Wednesday evening Martin, Stefan, Sandra, Curt and I went to a type of winery to have dinner and enjoy some wine. Apparently these places are only open for dinner about 6 weeks out of the year. So we felt lucky to be able to eat and enjoy the atmosphere at the winery.
Thursday morning Stefan and Sandra came over with breakfast. I walked with Martin, Lea and Liv to take Lea to school.
After that we all had breakfast. Man, that Liv is a hearty eater. She loves to eat. It is pretty cute. After breakfast Martin, Stefan, Sandra, Curt and I headed to Heidelberg. We visited the castle, which was pretty magnificent. After the castle visit and tour we headed to the city center and had lunch. We walked around the area and then had some coffee before heading home.
When we got home Martin said Lea told him she was disappointed when she came home from school and we weren't there. Awww.
Friday morning we had a yummy breakfast and then Curt and I along with Martin, Simone, Lea and Liv headed to a museum for the kids. We learned all about animals. And both girls really enjoyed it. We liked it, too, even if everything was in German.
After the museum we tried to go to this cool place on a hill that looks over Stuttgart. But it was closed when we got there. Bummer. We got back to Martin and Simone's. They made homemade zucchini soup. It was so good! I kept wanting to eat it. But I knew I had to limit myself since we were having a family barbecue later.
Both sets of grandparents came, Stefan (Martin's brother) and Sandra, and Markus (Simone's brother) and Gisella. Stefan grilled, Martin's mom, Elizabeth, made potato salad. There is a saying that you want to marry a woman whose mom makes good potato salad. HA! Well, I think Martin is gonna be OK. :) It was a fun time. Man, I gotta learn some German! I can't even speak my family's language so I am not sure if there is any hope for me.
Saturday morning we had breakfast. Martin went out to get stuff from the bakery. Man, the bread and pretzels are so good. As soon as he walked in with the bag Liv ran up to him and said, Oooohhhh. Martin said time for breakfast and Liv marched right to her chair to eat.
Curt and I got packed up, hung out with the family for a bit and then headed to the airport.
We flew from Stuttgart to Heathrow and had a little more than an hour for our layover. We made it--had to hurry. In Heathrow even if you are switching planes you have to go through passport and security. And our suitcases made it. We weren't sure if they would. We figured we would.
Today started off early--5 a.m. Been catching up on shows and laundry and all that good stuff.
And Curt has posted all of our trip videos here. He has set up playlists for each city and Oktoberfest. Just click on any one of them to the right and it will take you to all the videos in that category. (I just started watching the videos Curt posted and Liv does her great grin on the Stuttgart--backyard video.)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Shower, sushi, bed and ...

... football. Yes, we are home.
It has been a long day ... We flew from Stuttgart to London--with a short layover, but we and our bags made it (that doesn't always happen when going through Terminal 5). London to SFO--a little more than 10 hours and I didn't sleep. But I did watch four movies: The Hangover--HIL-AR-I-OUS!; The Proposal--eh, chick flick; The Soloist--good and sad; and Angels and Demons--pretty good and exciting. I read the book at least 3 years ago so I had forgotten some stuff.
So I have taken a shower and I feel so clean--awwwww and the sushi has been ordered. I haven't had sushi in like three whole weeks! After sushi will be bed I think. And once we got home Curt turned on the football in HD and English--a few things we missed in the past couple of weeks.
Anyway, we had a great visit in Stuttgart with our friends and "family." Martin and Simone's girls' are beautiful. Lea is the beautiful little girl and Liv is the cutest little thing with this amazing smile and curly hair.
I will write more tomorrow (and upload pics) about our Stuttgart portion of the trip.
Good night.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

2+ litres and a half chicken consumed

Well, we went to Oktoberfest last night. That was one wild party.
We got into Munich a little before 1 p.m. I found a shop to purchase my dirndl. After that we headed to the hotel.
We got to our hotel a little before 2, but we couldn't check in early. So we lounged in the lobby. I got a little worried about time and decided to get ready in the bathroom.
We got our room at 3, dumped our stuff off and headed toward Oktoberfest. I didn't realize how big it was. The beer tents are within a huge festival/carnival sort of thing.
We had tickets to the Hacker tent, which was Curt's first choice. We arrived a little after 4 and our reservation was at 4:30. It was very crowded and nuts with the lunch crowd finishing up. Our seats were in the gallery, which was less crowded and we got to look over the whole beer tent.
I finished two full litres of beer and started a third and ate almost my whole half chicken. The chicken was good. And the beer was good, too. Those mugs were so big I had to hold with both hands to drink--my hand started hurting holding that huge thing. I tried to switch to my left hand to strengthen that arm up--it was like lifting weights!
The band played fun music and for some reason a lot of American music. Ugh! They actually played Achy Breaky Heart.
Our table had a variety of nationalities at it: Americans (including a guy from Yuma, Arizona); German, Denmark, Czech, Poland ... The other Arizona guy and I got into talking. At first we got along great. He told me he was living in Spain--military and told me not to tell anyone he was military. Fine, whatever. Eventually he asked me my views on certain things and I told him and that pretty much started a fight. Jerk! If you don't want to know how someone feels about something then don't ask. Der!
Other than that we had a great and fun and crazy time. Curt shot a lot of video. And we clicked a lot of pics on our phones and the camera. You can find most pictures here. Video will be up later here.

Late this morning our friend Martin came into town and the three of us headed into Munich city center to walk around and have some lunch. It was pretty crowded. Martin said it normally wouldn't be like that on a Tuesday. Oktoberfest brings a lot of people to the area.
About 4 p.m. Curt and Martin took off to meet some people from IDG Germany (Curt works for the U.S. IDG) to attend a football (aka soccer) match. They will be sitting in a luxury box and though the game is not supposed to be that exciting they are both excited to go.
I came back to the hotel, bought some postcards, am updating the blog, going to eat and relax tonight. I didn't sleep that well last night--so I look forward to some relaxation and good sleep.
Tomorrow after breakfast the three of us will headed to Stuttgart to stay with Martin and his family and to see our other German friends.

Here is a link to the few pics we took while in Vienna.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

One night in Vienna

Curt and I arrived in Vienna about 6 p.m. tonight. And at our hotel about 7. We got cleaned up and met David and Catherine for dinner and drinks.
We did a little walking around the city center. Had delicious dinner and beers (and wine). Had some great conversation--but we always do with those two.
After dinner we headed to the Bermuda Brau for a drink.
Then after that we said our goodbyes and headed back to our hotels.
Catherine is flying home tomorrow--Cambridge. And Curt and I have an 8:20 a.m. train to Munich. So no late crazy night for any of us. (Though 11:30 is late for me.)

Since I am in Vienna a mere 14 hours very few pics are being snapped. I will post "all" of them later--which is like, I don't know, 10. For now you get the four of us before we parted ways.

2 words: pork knee

So apparently we have WiFi at our hotel ... we found out today as we were checking out. Oh well. No biggie, I guess. At least we had computers in the lobby to check e-mail and update. But still.I have uploaded our Prague photos to Facebook.Yesterday was our last full day in Prague. This afternoon we get on a train to Vienna and we meet David and Catherine for dinner.
Yesterday we went back to the Old Town Square and visited some shops Eva (tour guide) had pointed out as real souvenir shops (she said if they don't have Russian dolls they are legit). We bought a few lovely items. After that we did some more walking and a little shopping.
Then we decided to take the walk back near the castle and visit a shop where you can buy items that Carmelite nuns make and sell to support their way of life. The stuff was gorgeous. We had to be careful to not go too crazy since we have to bring that stuff back with us on a plane.
After that shopping we weren't too far from the monastery and figured we had earned a good beer. So we walked a little more and hit the monastery for another amber each. The took the amazing walk back down to our hotel.
I took a little nap and we lounged a bit. Then out for our last dinner in Prague: pork knee and pilsners. The pork was delicious, messy and greasy. But man it was good.
We had breakfast this morning and are just lounging in the lobby sipping coffee and updating and checking the World Wide Web.

Top photo is me having my monastery beer. Bottom photo is Curt posing with our final Prague supper: pork knee. Don't forget you can see all pictures here and also can read updates on our travel page and see videos.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Walking tour of Prague

I think it was in March that we booked a walking tour with Eva. She met us at our hotel. I highly recommend this type of private tour, and especially with Eva. Her knowledge of history, buildings, sites, places guide books can't and don't tell you.
She figured we would be together for six hours. Curt and I thought that was kind of long. But we ended up parting with her at 4 p.m. and she picked us up at 10.
My calves and one of my knees is hurting. But it was a great walking tour. We went to Baroque Garden and saw amazing views of the city. She gave us the history of many of the buildings, parts of town--Old Town, New Town, Lesser Town, the Jewish area, which has the oldest Synagoue in use (in Europe I believe)--700 years. Amazing.
The history here is just amazing. And she was very open to talk about Communism.
Eva took us to a real Czech restuarant where locals go--no tourists. The menu was all in Czech.
She took us to the village area behind the castle and we ended up at a Monastery where we had the best beer, according to Eva. I think she may be right.
Oh, Eva said she knew a Chihak or Cihak. Cool!
Tomorrow Curt and I will take it easy, do some lounging, see a few sites, buy some souveniers, etc. Then Sunday afternoon we head to Vienna where we will meet Catherine and David for dinner. Then Monday is off to Munich for Oktoberfest.
I hope to post photos tomorrow--maybe head to the "Internet Free WiFi" place across the street and post photos uploaded in iPhoto.
Today was a long and kinda hard day (all that walking) so I am going to sign off and head to bed.
Good night. (Or good day to most of you.)

Wenceslas Square

Yesterday afternoon Curt and I went to Wenceslas Square to walk around. We each had huge sausages to eat. I couldn't quite finish mine. We walked around and just took in the people and the sites and the football fans.
We also happened to find a random phone book and looked up Chihak. We found a decent amount of Cihaks. That was pretty cool.
Oh, Eva, our tour guide is here.
Will update more later.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sipping my coffee

Curt took off to look for an ATM and I am back in the hotel lobby using the free Internet. And there is no one waiting. I am also having some coffee. I came down to the lobby in a short-sleeve shirt and it is a little chilly down here. Mmmm, coffee is good.
I seem to be caught up on e-mail, Facebook, even posted on Go Fit Girl! ... (But you know when it is almost 6 a.m. San Francisco time most people aren't up checking e-mail and posting on Facebook.)
Anyway, so after I logged off this morning Curt and I had free breakfast at the hotel. Man, that was no typical continental breakfast. There were hardboiled eggs, cheese, sausage, lunch meats, many kinds of bread, many jam spreads, spreadable cheese, yogurt, cereal, juices, coffee, etc. Good stuff.
After breakfast we took off over the Charles Bridge and walked around the Gardens of Paradise and around the castle (not actually in it--we will do that tomorrow on our guided tour with Eva). We stopped at a little cafe and had a beer. Then headed back down and found a cafe to have lunch. I had mixed meat (fairly spicy) with potato pancakes. I think by fairly spicy they meant paprika and such. It had a little hot spice to it, but it was more sweet. It was very good. Curt had dumplings, polenta and some meat. I can't remember the name of his plate. But it looked good. I got a little taste, and it was yummy.
Before I sign into Blogger it ain't in English. So I have to remember which button means sign in. It was the same way in Budapest. This is on the page where I sign in: Přihlaste se pomocí účtu Google.
Later Curt and I will do more walking and visit Wenceslas Square and then get dinner.
There is a bar/restaurant across the streets that seems to have free WiFi. So I hope to post some pics soon.
Add this to your bookmarks. It's where all the videos we take will be posted. Some are being posted on our travel page, too, which is also being updated occasionaly.

Quick Prague update

We took the train from Budapest to Prague yesterday. Got in late yesterday afternoon.
Curt and I walked around the city center and to the Charles Bridge. Had a delicious dinner at a place that had a Tourist Menu.
I am using free Internet via our Prague hotel lobby. I better sign off. I think others are waiting to use the computer.
Check back for updates.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cafe time

The Internet service here is painfully slow. And considering how much we paid for it it should be getting us coffee and doing our laundry.
Curt and I went back to the public market today to walk around and make some purchases. I also bought myself some streudel, which was delicious, but a whole meal in itself and I had just had brunch.
Before heading to the castle we stopped at a cafe for a breather, beer and some relaxation. It is warm today. And before heading up that hill to the castle we needed to be prepared with Soproni, Hungarian beer.
After that we walked to the Budapest castle, which was pretty amazing and gave us some great views of the city. We took pics and video.
Here you can see the pics: Budapest album.
And here you can see the video, eventually: Travel page. (There is some video up of us at the cafe by the Danube.)
We really enjoy Budapest and really like our cafe time. If you don't like cafe time you won't like traveling with us.

Monday, September 14, 2009

I am definitely not losing weight in Budapest

So tonight after Curt and I rested a bit at the hotel we went out for a walk and dinner. We found a restaurant called Rustico. They serve Hungarian and Italian food. We both decided to go Hungarian with pork dinners. Curt's came with paprika potatoes and mine came with veggies and polenta. Man, it was so good! And filing.
As I am writing this I am watching the MTV music video awards. I don't normally watch award shows of any kind. And I have to say the MTV VMA awards the worst of them. But I need something on in the background. The jokes are not funny and somewhat offensive. Taylor Swift just won for best female video or something like that and she was interrupted by Kanye West. KW said Beyonce had the best video. I found that rather rude of him. Even Beyonce seemed shocked by it. And then a TS didn't get to finish her speech. What a rude man! KW seems to pull crap all the time and then apologize later.
Anyway, enough of that. Tomorrow we are heading back to the public market and visiting the castle. Wednesday morning we head to Prague by train.I think the times of my blog are publishing Pacific time. We are 9 hours ahead (we will be the whole time we are away).
Here are a couple of pictures for your enjoyment:

Top: View of the castle; Middle: Me (Ann) drinking a beer at a cafe right by the Danube as the tram goes by; Bottom: Curt taking a sip of beer every time the train passed by at the cafe by the Danube.

Oh, a little side note. Our room at our hotel has a speaker in the bathroom so you can listen to the TV in there. It's kinda weird.

Budapest update

Written: Monday, September 14 about 5:30 p.m. Budapest time; published: 9 p.m. Budapest time

I am writing this post on Mars Edit--where you can write a blog post now and post later. I also can post to all three blogs from one place. Anyway, I can write without being connected to the Internet. Internet access here is pretty spendy--so we figured out when we will pay for the 24-hour service--to maximize our need.

Flights and travel went smoothly. The only negative was that we had no in-flight entertainment. Which kinda sucked--but it will suck more if we don't have movies to watch on our way home (since we will be traveling during the day). British Airways gave us vouchers to make up for the fact that we had no entertainment. We are giving BA a second chance ...

We switched planes in London. We had to go back through security. When Curt and I put our stuff into the bins the security agent saw my Ziploc bag with liquids and said, that is lovely. Then she grabbed the bag and told all the people in line that this was a good example of how your liquids should be. I was a little proud. :)

At the airport we had an English breakfast. Yum! We got on our flight to Budapest and it was delayed because they had to change a tire or wheel or something. Curt and I couldn't help it and we zonked out.

Once we landed in Budapest we got an airport shuttle. We got to our lovely hotel, checked in. Then went for a walk and dinner. I had goulash and wine. It was good. Curt had a goulash soup and beer.

I was surprised at how well we slept. My norm in Europe is to zonk out about 10 p.m. and wide awake at 2 a.m. Last night I went to bed between 11 and 11: 30 along with half a sleeping pill. The first time I remember waking up it was 5 a.m. I woke up back and forth until I finally made myself get up at a little before noon. Yea, we slept a lot. But we got less than 4 hours of crappy sleep on the flight over.

We walked around and had some lunch. Then headed to the Budapest public market. (Curt took various video of the market.) That was really cool. Lots of stuff for sale: meats and salamis, spices (we are going back tomorrow to buy some), beautiful embroidery. Not the kind of markets or farmer's markets we are used to at all.

After the market we headed for a walk down to the river. Found a cafe and had a beer. It was a beautiful view and a nice relaxing spot. When we travel we really enjoy our cafe time.

We are back at the hotel relaxing and taking a break before we head out to dinner.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Time for a cold one

My tires have squealed out of the garage and I am home. It was a long day ... but I got what I needed to get done and went.
Curt and I are on a plane tomorrow evening heading east, east. First stop is Budapest.
Not sure what Internet access will be like. I will update when I can. I have a feeling Facebook will get more updates since it will be easy to update and send pics from my phone.
Curt has also set up a travel page where we will post pictures and video. This link can also be found in my link menu.
I am exhausted right now. But am excited that vacation time has officially started. I am off for that beer, packing, laundry, etc.


The date has a few significant meanings for me:

2001: Obviously the horrific tragedy that happened to our nation.
2002: Curt proposed and I said yes.
2004: My nana died.

Mixed emotions for sure.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

More pictures

I am trying to catch up on all my pictures before we head to Europe on Saturday. As I was clearing out the camera I noticed there are a lot of pics I have uploaded to the computer, but not necessarily to Facebook or on the blog.
Anyway, here are pics from our weekend visit with Ed and Marilyn.

Don't forget

The comment contest ends today at noon (Pacific time) at Go Fit Girl!
Go to this entry to post your health and fitness related comment.
Good luck!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


That's all for now.

Stress level rising ... quickly

I think today is just gonna be one of those days ...
Walking from the garage into the work building I nearly flung myself onto the stairs--likely face first. My heel got caught in my pant leg and I started to lunge forward. Luckily I only had my purse and it was on my shoulder. So I grabbed the railing and avoided a potential bad fall--twisted body parts, broken bones, blood etc. (not good right before you go on vacation). And I feel lucky that there were not witnesses, that I am aware of anyway.
I get into work, log on, make my coffee, get my cereal together and then it happens ... computer problems when IT is at at off-site. I had already predicted this. The one IT temp here came to take a look and finally just took my computer away. I am working on a laptop, which has some of what I need to do my job ... just not everything.
You know, I got lots to do before I go on vacation in a FEW DAYS!!!!!
I did get a lot done last night at home and I feel good about it. I am on track with work stuff--I think even despite my computer set back.
Anyway, on to work ...

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Guest Post Tuesday

Today is Guest Post Tuesday on Go Fit Girl! with a twist.
Check it out to see what all the rage is. (Hint: A prize is involved.)

Monday, September 07, 2009

Good visit

Our visit with Ed and Marilyn is coming to an end.
Yesterday we went to an A's game. They played the Mariners. And we got to see Ichiro Suzuki hit his 2,000 hit in the Major Leagues. He was the first batter. And I believe he accomplished this with his second pitch.
The game was a good time. It was warm. But a nice day. The A's won. We got to see a grand slam. (Curt and I saw one last Sunday at the Giants game with my grandpa.)
My dad came over about 5:30 and soon after that we went to Shushiya for dinner. It was a delicious dinner ... as always. And a nice visit.
Today we got up early and headed to Muir Woods. We had a nice 2-mile walk/mild hike. I had never been here. The redwoods were amazing. (Pics to come--too lazy to do it right now, plus Curt and I are watching Mad Men and I want to pay attention.)
After Muir Woods we headed to Stinson Beach for lunch. We found a cute little place to eat. The food was pretty good. And I got to soak up some sun.
Once we got home we lounged. We were going to have fresh ravioli for dinner. But Market Hall was closed. So we ordered pizza (and salad for me) from Rustica. We watched Wall-E and then the Ferret show. Man, Marilyn and I were laughing so hard we were crying.
The folks are in bed and Curt and I are watching Mad Men.
Good night.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The in-law factor

Have you noticed the fact that in-laws exist creates a negative ... what's the word ... feeling, response, etc.
A few times this past week when people asked me what I was doing for the long weekend and I told them my in-laws were coming to town I got reactions like, I'm sorry or bleh or ugh! My response is, I like my in-laws.
So far a nice and relaxing visit. Last night I left work a little early and we headed to Triple Rock for dinner, which included their yummy garlic fries.
This morning I headed to spin class. After I got home and showered we headed to REI to look at some luggage for Ed and Marilyn for their big trip next year. The we had lunch at T-Rex.
We have spent the afternoon lounging and napping and just hanging out. Ed and Marilyn got fresh raviolis for dinner from Market Hall. And I have some yummy wine to drink.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Work furlough?

I had to run an errand today. And on the way there I saw two people crossing the street with their bags, claw garbage picker upper thingies and orange vests. And on the back of the vests it said: Work Furlough. Huh? They seemed rather happy I also noticed.

Annie the Baker

When in Napa in July we met this amazing baker, Annie. Annie makes cookies that are slightly undercooked. For those of us who love cookie dough.
For Ed's birthday weekend (his birthday is really in the middle of the month--but Curt and I will be in Europe) I ordered peanut butter cookies and chocolate chip. I LOVE PB cookies. And Annie's are awesome. I have tried all of her cookies and they are all great. Annie is working on a doodle snicker right now. Another one of my favorite cookies.
Ed regularly reads my blog. But he is (along with Marilyn) on a plane right now. And I am thinking he likely won't check the blog before I get home today with the cookies.
Anyway, that was the errand I had to run. I had to go pick up the cookies from the post office.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Trip photos

I have finally posted some pics from past trips.
New Orleans is right here. My friend Sue and I went to New Orleans in November. It was a quick planned trip. We had about 3 weeks to use up some plane tickets--and they were first class baby!
And Boston photos are here. Curt had a training in Wellesley--outside of Boston. We found out that Kate and Jason were going to be in Boston at that same time. And they had tickets for the same Sox game that Curt did. How crazy is that? Curt found me a super cheap flight. So I had to go. We met up with Kate and Jason (it was Jason's birthday) before the game and after.
I really loved Boston and would love to go back. We were there for a quick visit.

Ed and Marilyn come out tomorrow afternoon. We are planning on having sushi, going to Muir Woods, hitting and A's game on Sunday, etc. It should be a good visit.

Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Worthy of a blog post

A daughter of Curt's co-worker recently had a birthday party. She is 8 and it was a costume party. And according to Curt, the kids dressed up as freaky artists.
Now, you almost do a double-take take on whether that is an 8-year-old or Frida Kahlo, don't you?
I thought Kate would really get a kick out of this.
Also worthy of a post ... or a rant
Southwest is now going to start charging 10 bucks each way for boarding positions. I read this story and I still don't quite get it. It seems you could still pay the 10 bucks and end up low on the list. Or if you get A31 someone could pay 10 bucks and push you back to B25? Huh?
I love logging in 24 hours before and getting my seat. I take it as a challenge to get the best spot possible and I wonder how 15 people coulda clicked faster than me in the mere seconds we had. I love Southwest and fly it often. It is cheap and goes just about every where I need to go in the U.S. And I earn a free flight fairly often--between all my flying and credit card.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Guest Post Tuesday

The beginning of a new month and a Tuesday ... which means only one thing ... Guest Post Tuesday on Go Fit Girl!
We have another second timer today. Check it out!