Thursday, April 27, 2006

Germans love pork (and David Hasselhof).

So we're driving up to Germany from Italy last weekend. We decided to stay overnight about halfway because the X Man doesn't do well at all on long car trips (or short trips for that matter). We made it to Fussen, which you may know as the home of the Neuschwanstein Castle. We managed to find the most gorgeous little pensione that had a balcony featuring a fantastic view of the Zugspitze, which is the highest mountain in all of Germany. I delighted in sitting on the balcony and sipping a Rosso di Montalcino that I had brought with us from Italy.

So anyway, we settled into the hotel and asked about dinner. The hostess informed us that they didn't do a dinner but that the little pensione right next door did so off we went. It had been a few years since I left Germany but I had a fond recollection of German sausages and schnitzel, etc. I scanned the menu and spied a grilled pork dish that looked promising. As a side dish, the menu described something along the lines of pork and bananas but that didn't seem quite right to me. Bananas? In Bavaria? I figured my limited German was deceiving me. But sure enough, the dish arrived...and the side dish to my grilled pork in curry sauce was bananas wrapped in bacon. Think about that for a minute. Bananas with bacon wrapped around them. As a side dish.

You gotta really love your pork to wrap your bananas in it.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

My last Italy post, Part 2

OK, so earlier today I finally got around to finishing and posting the last post that I had started in Italy. However, it seems that refuses to post it as a new post. Ergo (therefore) you will need to scroll down a bit to read it. It's headline is "My Last Italy Post". Please read it so my efforts weren't in vain...

Sunday, April 23, 2006

We're here

We arrived in Germany yesterday and are now in the hotel until we find a house. I have internet access in the hotel so I'll try to post the update when I have time, as well as answer the 17,578 emails I got while we were out of the loop. I start my new job tomorrow. I also have our new address so if anyone needs it please email me...

Sunday, April 16, 2006

I'm not ignoring you...

Our ADSL hookup at the house was turned off almost a week ago and our household goods are currently on their way to Deutschland. So if you've sent me an email in the past week or so and haven't received a response, that's why. We're currently staying at the hotel on base which surprisingly does not have internet access which means I'm reduced to the occasional trip to the library to wait a half hour for a public computer.

We're on schedule to depart Italy either Friday (21st) afternoon or Saturday (22nd) morning for Germany. Don't know how often I'll be able to check email up there either while I inprocess and search for a house, etc. So please be patient and remember that I'm not ignoring you. Well, at least not most of you, har har...


Monday, April 10, 2006

My last Italy Post

[EDITOR'S (OK Me...) NOTE: I wrote this entry a couple weeks ago while we were still getting things ready to go. Things got so crazy that I never had a chance to post it so I'm doing so now to get finality on the Italy section of my blog. Consider this my last post about my expoits in the land of Bella Italia before starting my new life in Deutschland.]

With everything going on lately I haven't had a chance to do the recap from our trip to Venice last weekend. Since we're leaving in a couple weeks, it might actually turn out to be our last trip to Venice. If so, I'm satisfied that we got our money's worth.

Our friends Mike and Grace from Rotterdam in the Netherlands came down for the weekend to experience a bit of Bella Italia. And if you know me, I love to play host to anyone wanting to experience Italy. We picked them up Friday afternoon and set out for Venice. By the time we checked into our hotel, it was dinner time so we headed to the Alla Madonna where we had a less than stellar meal. Typical Venice - Si spenda tanto e si mangia male (you spend a lot and you eat badly). We should have just done panini. But I digress...

Mike and Grace

Anyway, we were there to show Mike and Grace the city and visit the bars so after dinner we headed towards my old standby, the Devil's Forest Pub. Had some Guinness and chatted while the X Man played with a couple other kids who were there. From there we hit the Bacaro Jazz which, if you know me, is my favorite drinking establishment in Venice. They've got good wine, good beer, the place is usually crowded and lively, and the bartender Mary is one cool chick (she's from Niagra Falls, btw).

Bacaro Jazz, my favorite Venetian watering hole

We had some vino there, then headed for another one of my favorite pubs - the Fiddler's Elbow. One of the best things about the Fiddler's Elbow is the Kebab shop right next door. It's by far the best kebab I've ever had. I go there everytime we're in Venice and the guy there knows me by now.

The kebab dude

From there it was back to Bacaro Jazz which was quite packed by that point. Mike and I kept yelling "If it's not Scottish, it's CRAP!" (It's from a Saturday Night Live skit...) for some reason so imagine how funny it was when this dude walking by stopped and asked us if we were from Scotland, which of course, he happened to be. We ended drinking with him and a bunch of others all night:

The Scottish dude

The night ended badly however as we were not able to locate any drunk food due to the late hour. Good drunk food is paramount to any night out in Venice so it detracted from the experience but we persevered like the troopers that we are.

The next day was exremely full. We took Mike and Grace to some of the main sights - the Piazza San marco, the Bridge of Sighs, the Accademia, etc. Grace runs a little business where she makes and sells hand-made jewelry and beads, etc, so she was in heaven in the many glass and bead shops:

Grace among the beads

We packed in quite a bit for one day - so much so that by the time we made it to the car, all of us were practically limping. If we wer horses, you would have lined us up and shot us one by one.

So we left Venice, but Mike and Grace's real Italian experience was yet to come. I had lined up a dinner with our upstairs neighbors, Giampietro and Agnese, for that night. Agnese made some pasta with asparagus and we also had some bresaola with rucola and grana and some nice steaks that Virginia cooked up. I wanted to ensure that Mike and Grace got the absolute most out of their 2 days here so I broke out one of my prized Brunello di Montalcino's for dinner. God, it was exquisite. After dinner came the ever present cheeses, no less than 6 different types. It was a very special - and international - night. American, Italian, Filipino, and Dutch, all at the same table. And despite the language barrier, we were all like old friends. That's one of the things I love about Giampi and Agnese, and the main reason I wanted to do dinner with them upstairs rather than take Mike and Grace out to a really good local restaurant for dinner. I'm satisfied that I made the right choice. Here's a couple of pics from dinner:

We finished the night at home watching the movie "Euro Trip" which Mike go ta kick out of, being European and all. I was feeling the moment so I even delved back into my collection and opened a 1997 Barbaresco. It, too, was fanastic.

Overall, it was an outstanding weekend, one of the most enjoyable I've had in quite some time. As I mentioned, I always enjoy showing people my Bella Italia, but when they really enjoy it and I can see how much they appreciate the things they see and experience, it just makes it that much better. Here are some more pics from the weekend:

As you can tell by that last picture, Mike and Grace were pretty much spent by the time we dropped them off at the airport. I was extremely satisfied that they received a true Italian experience so the drive home was nice. I had met Mike and Grace about a year earlier on my Amsterdam trip (check the blog archives, last May) but I wasn't sure how well Virginia and Grace would hit it off. Turns out they got along great and we all had the best weekend. As for the X Man, he really took to both Mike and Grace - especially Grace. So, I'm wondering...Grace, what the hell did you do to my kid?! Har guys better visit again soon...

[ADDENDUM: We're in Germany and indeed the X Man seems to have developed an infatuation with Grace. For example, on the drive up here we told him that he had to wear his seatbelt and he responded "Anche Grace!", which is Italian for "Grace has to wear hers too!". He has also commented a few times "Call Grace" when I log onto the computer. Also, everytime we pull up their website and he sees it he yells "Mikie Grace!". And the "coup de grace" (no pun intended) was today as we were walking around the Altstadt (old town) in Heidelberg, he saw an Asian girl who looked sort of like Grace and he pointed and yelled "Grace! Grace!"

This is sort of a first as usually it's the other way around - the women always develop a crush on him. Grace, you are certainly special...]

Friday, April 07, 2006

Germany Timeline

OK, here's the deal:

Friday, April 14th - Household goods get picked up.

Tuesday, April 18 - Final inspection/move out of house.

Friday, April 21 - Last official day with Northrop Grumman IT.

Saturday, April 22 - Drive up to Germany.

Monday, April 24 - First day at work on the new job.

So that's that. I'll try to update the blog with more Italy stuff before we leave, including a recap of our friends Mike and Grace's visit here last weekend. Stay tuned...

Monday, April 03, 2006


It's official; we're going to Germany. Got the offer this morning and already accepted.