My First Castle

Blogging is difficult when you spend your time Living Out Loud.  But better late than never …right!

A view from the garden.
A view from the garden.

My world-wind weekend ended with my first Castle visit. A new friend offered to take me to see my first castle. So of course I happily obliged. We drove about an hour from Frankfurt to the city of Heidelberg. The drive there was very scenic and beautiful. The scenery is much like what I imagine the French countryside looks like. I guess I never imagined the German countryside to be so beautiful.

Upon arriving in the city and parking, we walked up a few steep cobblestone hills. And I’m so glad I happened to bring my “walking sandals” with me. I didn’t initially know what we’d be doing that day and had just purchased sandals made for walking, although they’re ugly, they do a good job.

We visited the garden outside of the castle first. It was a great day and the view was amazing. I left my camera home, stupidly, but my phone took surprisingly nice pictures. We enjoyed the views for a while before heading over to the castle.

Unfortunately, the castle was closed until 11pm for a performance. So we were only able to take pictures of the outside. That just means I have to come back.

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Mon Amie Maxi

Part of my full week of going out every day included reservations at a nice French Restaurant in downtown Frankfurt.  Eating Mon Amie Maxi was a great experience. The food was good, the wine was good and the atmosphere was good.  I ordered soup (Lobster Bisque) and a wedge salad and even that was good. This was my attempt to watch my spending.  That didn’t work out so well since the two bottles of wine we ordered were 69 and 35 respectively.  That’s Euros!!!! I still ended up shelling out close to 50 euros towards the bill.

Here are some shots of the food we ordered and there were no complaints…Chicken Cordon Bleu, the Maxi Burger, and the Catfish (I think).

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The Marshall, the Shovel, and the Waiter

The Marshall

I’ve gone out every weekday this past week for dinner and drinks.  This is probably not the best idea, since I’m spending Euros and not US dollars, but I’m sure my spending habit will be curbed in a few weeks when reality sets in and I see my bank account.

One night we went to the Westin downtown. It was quiet at the bar maybe 2 other people besides the two I was with.  That was until Jerry the loud and obnoxious U.S. Air Marshall arrived.

Jerry literally stood at the end of the bar where there was no chair or stool and awkwardly close to my friend as if he was waiting to be invited into our conversation. My friend has a good relationship with the bartenders and we were generally enjoying their company. Until Jerry made an appearance…  I guess when you are in a foreign land and you hear other people speaking your native tongue you sort of have an overwhelming desire to talk to them or at least listen and feel comforted in the fact that in some small way, you are not alone in this big foreign place.

Jerry made it very clear that he was from the Jersey Shore, but really he was from Queens or Brooklyn rather. He actually sounded just like he could be ‘The Situations’ father.

Jerry insulted the bartender; made several accusations about my friends and I, and almost got into a fight with a British guy who offered his input on a question we were having trouble answering.  Oh, and somewhere in all that he bought me a glass of wine and had 5 or 6 more beers of his own.

Jerry was literally ready to fight the British guy for trying to help us out. Jerry had asked us if we knew which popular film had recorded a scene in the Westin that we were in that night.  None of  us had any clue. So he offered us one, telling us it was one of the Jason Bourne movies. I like that series and couldn’t remember them being in the last one at least which would make the most sense in my mind. Anyway, we started trying to name all the Bourne movies and got stumped. That’s when the Brit yelled out the answer in a polite way. Jerry didn’t seem to take to kindly to this for some reason, however. In the end, between our smartphones, none of them were able to find this ‘fact’ that Jerry mentioned and the bartender who had worked in the bar for over 14 years knew nothing about it either. Jerry might have gotten his facts wrong.

The funny thing is that Jerry kept trying to invite my friends and I back to the lounge upstairs, which is for the premium customers and where, because he has so many hotel rewards, he can drink for free all night instead of paying for his drinks down at the bar.  As his guests we would also be able to drink for free.  But we wouldn’t have cared if they were paying us to drink, none of us wanted anything more to do with Jerry especially if that meant he would continue to drink and be even more obnoxious.

The Shovel

I was informed about a restaurant in Frankfurt, the Feldbergblick, that serves a huge meat platter adorned with an almost equally massive amount of potatoes and veggies. The kick is that it is actually served on a shovel. Yes a Shovel. The men or women who can clean their plates and down a pint of beer, wins bragging rights, and rightfully so. The picture doesn’t do it justice, it’s a lot more on the plate that can be displayed and I believe it comes with potatoes instead of fries.shovel

A guy visiting my female acquaintance attempted this mighty feat. He literally had asmall leaf of lettuce left on his plate and had down all but an ounce or two of his liter of beer before he “released” it in the garden near our table. I advised him against ordering the glass of still water, as it would surely expand his stomach, making him feel fuller than he already was.

We were all rooting for him and he couldn’t have been any closer to completing the task, but I think we all recognized him as having successfully conquered the ‘shovel’.

The Waiter

Our waiter was having fun with us the whole time, and he gave me a particularly hard time the whole night. I’ve been trying to practice my German with bartenders and waiters and he was no exception.  I ordered Kalbsrahmschnitzel (fried veal in a cream sauce) and it came with spaetzle, homemade noodles.  He was trying to help me say it properly but I was failing miserably, and he wouldn’t leave until I said it properly.  Meanwhile the whole table is laughing at me and I finally get it right.  Then I later ask for water and a coke and repeatedly confirmed that I don’t want a diet/light coke as my colleague had ordered.  When he returns, he takes my glass of bottled water pours most of it into an empty glass and then turns the glass bottle completely upside down into the glass. Somehow the water in the bottle managed to stay in the bottle. By this time the whole table is laughing hysterically. My glass of Coke was huge and as I start drinking it he says “I’ll return with a straw for the baby”.  He brings back two straws, a larger and smaller one and stick them both in the glass of water, that still had the upside down water bottle. He removed the bottle from the glass without spilling it or pouring any additional water in the glass.

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My First Week Abroad

Guess who moved overseas?  MEEEE! That’s who.  Yup, I’m always traveling somewhere, so this is sort of an extension of that passion.  Only this will be a slightly new experience for me.  I’ve never lived anywhere outside of the United States for more than four months.

So where am I?  Deutschland or Germany as most people say.  It was a lot of work preparing for this new chapter… visas, packing, housing etc. But I survived and without too many headaches.

I’ve visited Germany for a short time earlier this year and it was super cold and snowy but ultimately I pressed forward with my decision to move here.

Anyway, I arrived to Frankfurt on a beautiful summer day.  My first week in Frankfurt was pretty good. I didn’t have jet lag and was able to score a few things from various stores in the not-too-distant area. I got a TV, some groceries, (I swear the bread will be the death of me, but it’s so delicious) and some household items like cleaning supplies and toilet paper.  Once I get cable and internet I’ll be all set.

In addition to shopping all day, I was invited to hang out on Saturday night with an acquaintance I’ve known for a few years and a small group of others. I had an amazing time and the guys were all really fun characters.

Starting the night at O’Reileys near the train station downtown was good. I had a chicken club which would have been better if they didn’t use Miracle Whip or the mayo substitute.  Even better was that they had Magner’s Cider beer on tap. WINNING! I’m not a real beer drinker so I’ll chose Cider beer, wine, or mixed liquor whenever I’m out. I hear Apple wine is really big in Germany so I’m dying to try it.

After dinner we took a cab to the Sachsenhausen area near the Hooters. Let me tell you, that was like nothing I had ever expected to see in Frankfurt.  It was like a huge party where you feel like you know half the crowd.  I can only compare it to a combination of D.C’s U-Street corridor combined with Philadelphia’s South Street and Baltimore’s Power Plant Live but with mostly outdoor seating, cheap drinks, and hookah with huge groups of people. I don’t even know if that’s an accurate description but it’s all I can come up with for now.

Apparently, the guys we went with had become favorites of one of the cocktail waitresses at the first spot.  So we got awesome treatment and really great drinks for a good price. We bar hopped for a while, taking shots here and there. It always seemed that the bartenders would capitalize or magnify our “Americaness”…I know that isn’t really a word but our shots were red, white, and blue. Although they were quite good. And our drinks were “American-sized”.  I guess “when in Germany do as the…Americans?”

It’s Europe so cigarette smoking is widely acceptable and sometimes expected; luckily my hair didn’t smell like smoke the next day.

Most memorable was the ridiculous number of bridal and grooms party’s strolling through Sachsenhausen, selling kisses, hugs, adult toys, and everything in between. Apparently, the proceeds go to the bride or to offset the cost of the wedding.  I won’t say which of these treasures I indulged in but it was a good time.

I wasn’t ready to go but one of the ladies was.  The night started at about 6:30 and ended at about 1:30 AM.

I think my first weekend in Germany was a success.

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