Saturday, August 31, 2013

30 Things I Have Come to Love about Ohio

I know that I have been spamming you guys lately with several posts about how to be or not to be German. Sorry about that (might be a German thing), moving on - to Ohioans. I know, I couldn't believe that was a word, either! Since I have spent my last few months in this state, I am actually starting to get used to it.
So when I came across this fabulous list of things people from Ohio like (sorry, Ohioans sounds horrible!), I thought that
a) this was hilarious! Finally somebody who sees the Ohio world like me!
b) I HAVE to share this list with you guys.

So here it comes, y'all! Enjoy!


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Trouble in the Hood

Have you ever had problems with your neighbors? If you are alive and breathing and don't have a one-acre-yard between you and your neighbors, I assume you have. Well, meet my problem neighbor:
He is a happy bachelor, in his late 40s (I am assuming), still living with his parents. Since this is the US and not Latin America, this is not really acceptable. But hey, I am a tolerant person and will not judge him just because all he does is sit at home all day and yell at his parents. Actually, every time I see him, we have a friendly little chat, and in general he seems to be a very nice guy. Until he decides to put his club-size speakers on the window sill, with the window wide open, the speakers pointing directly at our room. And the real problem is not even the volume (hey, all the power to listening to music full blast), the REAL problem is his choice of music! Today's (and pretty much every day's) selection include:

- Kid Rock - "All Summer Long" (Maybe okahaay if you play it once, but not if you play it 7 times ... and yes, I counted!)

- Texas - "I don't want a lover" (Torture! Especially if followed by the entire album in which every song sounds exactly the same ... it actually took me a while to realize that it was an album, and not just one song on "repeat".)

- Adele - "Chasing Pavements" (I don't even mind Adele, but, again: one time is enough, you don't need to be chasing pavements 6 times in a row!)

- George Michael (And we are talking 80s really cheesy George Michael - is there even another George Michael??? - do I need to say more?!)

And this is about as diverse as it gets, for now 4 hours straight!!!!! I have contemplated throwing a big rock at his speakers as well as manipulating his electric circuit but neither my aiming nor my technical skills are good enough so I had to abandon both plans.

I know that you wonder: "Why not do the obvious, and go over and ask him to turn down his music?" Well, I am afraid of the consequences should he turn down his music. The last time I asked my neighbors (a young, and very much in love couple) to turn down their TV which they had turned on at the strangest hours, I realized that the sounds that were covered up by the TV were ... well, let's just say, I would have preferred the TV instead. So for now, George Michael, Kid Rock and ear plugs it is!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Importance of (not) Being German

I knew it! All this traveling must have affected my somehow. Now I have proof: I am not really German (any more ... on the maybe very wild assumption that I ever was!).

How do I know? I took the German quiz ... and I failed it: The result: I am only 57% German, waaaaay below average. And what can I say?

1. Kipping your windows always seemed ridiculous to me. For the non-Germans reading this: windows in Germany can be tilted open, that's what we call "kippen" and it seems to be some sort of unwritten law for German households that windows need to be kipped at all times. For me, to be very blunt, that is just stupid. You either have your windows open or closed, leave me alone with all this kipping!

2. Sparkly water. I don't like it. Okay, I like Apfelschorle (sparkly water mixed with apple juice), but this is about as far as I will ever go. I don't do sparkly water by itself, it hurts my throat, and I really don't understand why water has to be fizzy at all. I also find all the different degrees of sparkly water (yessss, in every German supermarket you can find a wide selection, from very sparkly water and less sparkly water,over slightly sparkly water, to extremely sparkly water) very unnecessary.

3. Klugscheissen, which is the German way of being a smart ass. If somebody mispronounces a name, gets a date wrong by one day, or doesn't know the score of the Argentina-Germany game in the 2006 world cup, you correct them right away, with a slightly annoyed, know-it-all undertone, stretching out the last syllable and raising your voice at the end: "His name was not Roobespierre but Robespieeeeeerrree!" Personally, I find it rude, unnecessary, and in my opinion, the only purpose of Klugscheissen is to boost your own ego. Not that Germans actually mean to be rude or even think of it as offensive ... it's just what they do.

4. Recycling. The German holy cow. You cannot touch it. You cannot question it. And you can never publicly disregard it! I, on the other hand, don't care. Recycling by people actually has been proved to be inefficiant and they throw all the garbage back together to have it sorted out by machines, that do a better job anyway. They are just scared to tell the German public. You can't take away their five garbage cans any more! So here, I'll just go ahead and say it: I don't care whether the yogurt package goes in the black or the yellow can!!!

So while there clearly still is some German well hidden, deep down inside me, (, this test proves it: I can now officially call myself an Ausländer!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Unbearable Lightness of Doing Nothing

So 20 days ago, I set myself the very ambitious goal of posting something every day for one month. That worked out ... for maybe 12 days or so and then ... well, then came the East Coast and the beach, and an incredible laziness that just overpowered me. Even the idea of checking my emails once a day seemed like such a drag when my other options were to just lay on the beach, get a tan, and indulge in the most wonderful thing in the world: doing nothing!

BUT, I actually did manage to do a few things on the East Coast that I want to share with you, such as: 

- meeting up with dear old friends and
- making new ones

- eating delicious food

- strolling through cute, historic neighborhoods

- and last but not least, enjoying the beautiful beaches

The moral of this story? Even if you don't quite achieve what you had set out to do, you can still have a lot of fun along the way!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

How not to spend a day in Albany

Welcome to Albany, state capital of New York and booooring city

If it weren't for my very dear friend Karo, Albany, NY, definitely wouldn't have been included in our travel itinerary. But here we are and after two days of eating pizza and Ben & Jerry's and watching movies, we felt that there MUST be something more exciting to do in Albany. So we decided to rent a car, and drive up to the Catskills for a hiking and swimming day. Sounds like a fabulous idea, right? Wrong! This was the beginning of our 42-step misadventure in Albany...

1. Map out a perfect day in the Catskills and plan the logistics.

2. Find a car rental online.

3. Check the address on Google maps.

4. Realize that it is one of the few car rental places that is not located at the airport and make a reservation for an early pick-up.

5. Go out and buy groceries and then prepare sandwiches for the hike.

6. Get up early the next morning.

7. Decide that you will leave the food at home to pick it up later with the car.

8. Go to the bus stop.

9. Wait 30 minutes because the bus doesn't arrive on time.

10. Get off the bus and walk fast towards the car rental place because you are running a little late.

11. Start to sweat because it is getting hotter and hotter.

12. Craving coffee.

13. After 30 minutes walking, realizing that you started at house number 400, and now you are only at number 450. The address of the car rental place is 941.

14. Asking a fireman to look up the address on his iPhone.

15. Realizing that the car rental place is all the way up at the airport.

16. Deciding to try to hitch a ride.

17. Being frustrated because nobody wants to stop for us.

18. Stopping at a library and paying one dollar to check the bus schedules to the airport online.

19. Finding a bus stop close by and a bus that will leave in a couple of minutes.

20. Getting there when the bus has just left and the driver refuses to open the door for us.

21. Getting coffee.

22. Waiting for one hour until the next bus comes and being really really hungry.

23. Getting to the airport and finding out that we have to call the car rental to pick us up from the airport because they are even further away.

24. Reading the bus schedules and seeing that the last bus back to Albany leaves already at 8.30 PM. It is 1 PM now.

25. Arriving the car rental.

26. Learning that our reservation had been cancelled and that we have to pay more for a car now.

27. Asking the manager if we can get a ride back into town because otherwise we won't have enough time for our trip any more.

28. Getting a big, fat "no" for an answer.

29. Getting into a fight with the manager.

30. Leaving the car rental, frustrated and without a rental car.

31. Taking 2 more buses back to Albany.

32. Finding out that we could have gotten very cheap day bus passes instead of paying for every single ride.

33. Deciding to go to Troy to do at least something "exciting" and postponing breakfast/lunch until we get to this "really awesome Lebanese place" in Troy.

34. Starving.

35. Joking about the Lebanese restaurant being close.

36. Arriving at the Lebanese restaurant and seeing the big "Closed, we are on vacation" sign.

37. Invading a Greek restaurant in Troy at 4.30 PM.

38. Fighting over the Greek salad entree.

39. Eating the probably most delicious Greek food we have ever had. (The fact that we hadn't eaten anything all day might have had something to do with this assessment...)

40. Falling asleep in a park in Troy.

41. Heading back to Albany.

42. Finishing the day with pizza, Ben & Jerry's and a movie.

Conclusion: If you want to do something fun in Albany: Get pizza, buy ice cream, and watch a movie!

We want ice cream and pizza!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Canadian Cuisine

Admittedly, Canada might not be famous for its culinary delights but there are definitely some dishes that you should try!

1. Poutine

Known as a typical dish from Quebec, you can actually also find it in other parts of Canada. I tried my first poutine in Kingston (yes, Kingston and YES, it did have cheese curds but the best poutine you can find, hands down, is definitely in Quebec). The combination of fries, gravy and cheese curds might not sound like something people would ever eat but it's surprisingly tasty - especially at 3 am after a night out. My favorite: Italian style poutine with tomato sauce.

2. Beer

Canadians not only love beer, they also like to brew beer. For beer lovers this means that you can choose from a sheer endless variety of local Canadian beers. My favorite: Mill Street Cobblestone Stout from Toronto.

3. Beaver Tails

For vegetarians: This is a meat-free pastry! And a delicious one, I might add. It is a typical desert from Ottawa and is basically a piece of fried dough (in the shape of a beaver tail), classically topped with sugar and cinnamon. My favorite beaver tail: chocolate hazelnut.

4. RISE Kombucha

Even if I risk repeating myself, this low-sugar, tea-based soda is actually the first soda I ever liked on this continent. My favorite flavor: all of them!

5. Maple Leaf Cream Cookies

This is probably as Canadian as it gets: a cookie in maple leaf form filled with a maple sugar cream filling. Way too sweet but also way too good to resist!

Bon Appetit!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Toronto vs. Montreal: Which Canadian City is Cooler?

Of the cities that I have seen in Canada, these would be my top two. While Toronto has a more modern, hip, trendy, cool and ultra clean vibe, Montreal is a little dirtier, more chaotic, more punk, and maybe a little wilder and it has the bilingual factor (which I love). So which one did I like best? BOTH!

                                                   Best Food: Japanese vs. Poutine


                             Coolest Graffiti: Kensington Market vs. Sainte Catherine


                              Nicest River View: Canal Lachine vs. Port of Toronto


                                                   Chinatown vs. Chinatown


                               Most Impressive Building: Notre Dame vs. Art College


                          Most amazing view of the city: River View vs. Mont Royal view


                                Craziest Piece of Art: Kombucha Man vs. Elephant Man


                                        Most Colorful Tongue: Raspberry vs. Slush Puppy


Which one's your favorite?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

I Saw a Sign

Signs are per definition meant to be clear and precise, they are not supposed to be funny or artistic. Unless you are in Canada. Canadians have developed a very unique approach to signs (maybe due to their heritage of British humor?), but see for yourself: