Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wander in the Woods

As a small town girl who loves the outdoors, I must admit that city living is a great experience that unfortunately leaves me a little homesick for the woods and wild.  So I was extremely pleased when I first learned about the German tradition of Familien Sonntagsspaziergang which translates to family walk on Sunday.  Reading about it is one thing, but seeing the woods on a Sunday or holiday is astonishing.

When my in-laws visited back in October we had our first encounter with this concept.  First, it's important to note that in Germany most places are closed on Sundays, with the exception of restaurants and loud noises (i.e. cutting the grass, loud music, etc) are not allowed.  All work is done on Saturdays leaving Sundays strictly for leisure.  I love this custom!

So without map or any real idea where we were headed the four of us piled into the car, punched in a location on the GPS and headed up to the Taunus mountain region to go for a hike.  Since it was a holiday, the number of cars we saw was not that surprising, we found a parking spot and headed up the trail soaking up the sunshine.  After walking the trail about 40 minutes we came to a plateau with a few buildings and lots of people...hmmm...interesting we thought as we approached.  Then as the signs were visible - we realized that these little places were restaurants selling beer, brots, and kuchen (cake).  We felt as though we were in heaven....a nice walk in the woods and stumbling upon food and refreshments, which was perfect as we had not yet had lunch.

After fueling up our bellies we headed back down to the car.  Again not exactly knowing where we were going once in the car, we decided to keep driving up the hill.  The higher we ascended the more cars we saw.  Eventually there were cars along both sides of the road and once we reached the top of the Feldberg (highest mountain in the Taunus at 878 meters) there were literally people and cars covering every open surface making it difficult to maneuver a vehicle.  The number of people was simply jaw dropping.  Back home people generally are just not this active.  Well, that was our first experience of a wander in the woods here.

Last Sunday I woke up with an urge to escape the city, to walk in the dirt not on cobblestones, to see towering trees not endless buildings, and to breath fresh clean air not the exhaust of thousands of cars.  So we went for a wander in the woods, thought we were lost for a bit and then after two hours found our way back to our car.  A perfect day!

Although, I had the need to get out of the city, I must at least say that Frankfurt is very livable city with many huge parks - a handful within walking distance from our flat - and lots of trees for a big city.  The Taunus mountains are only a 30 minute drive away and beautiful with great views of the region.  So far a great place to live and play.          

I love Familien Sonntagsspaziergang!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Driving & Transportation & Parking

When looking for an apartment one of the requirements we included within the search was an included parking spot.  Since my husband Travis has a 45 minute commute and parking is very difficult in the city he wanted a spot that will for sure be there once he makes it through Frankfurt's horrible traffic.  So we have the most intriguing parking set up like I've never seen before.

The haus next to us has an underground parking garage where our parking space is located.  Perfect no worries   or wasted hours spent trying to find a free spot.  First there is a remote activated post that goes done in order for a vehicle to pull into the driveway.  After pulling around to the back side there is a bat cave like entrance to the parking garage.  There are five elevator stalls that each hold four vehicles - small cars.

 Here one of the stalls with the bottom spots empty and below a picture taken while Travis raises the lift so that we can get to our car.  There really isn't that much space between upper and lower levels.  When we ordered our car we had to take measurements to make sure that whatever car we get will fit in the space.  A Porsche was not on his list of available options, but it would have fit perfectly!  We are just thankful to have a parking space - less stress - and a car that runs.

Most of the time the car stays parked except for going to work, on weekend road trips or hiking adventures into the Taunus - generally we use public transportation, which is extremely convenient.  Trips to the grocery store, going out to dinner, or shopping, and pretty much anywhere with in Frankfurt we walk, ride bikes, or take public transit, which I love.  I have a monthly pass for the public transportation within the city of Frankfurt, which is great.  For 75 euros a month, I can ride after 9am and someone can ride with me Monday thru Friday after 7pm for free and on the weekends & holidays for free.  Totally worth it!

I wish public transportation was as wide spread in the US.  I enjoy the freedom of not having to worry about filling up a gas tank, finding parking, or having a car to keep clean.  Not to mention there are millions of road signs in Germany I don't know how people remember what they all mean.  Luckily, some US states have reciprocity with Germany and they you don't have to take tests to get your German license.  Michigan is one of those states with full reciprocity so we don't have to do the written or driven tests in order to get our licenses.  Thank goodness!


Monday, December 5, 2011

Knödel Time

My first attempt at making German food....Knödel dinner success......

Knödels are German dumplings made of bread and potatoes with some herbs.  So was dinner especially healthy - not after I poured the mushroom gravy over them!  OK so the dumplings came from a box, but I made the delicious mushroom sauce and tossed in some window sill herbs too.  I really just like saying knödel :)

Not a huge adventure into the land of the unknown, but I did have to translate packing - thank you Google Translate.  Most importantly we enjoyed eating them!

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Finally some rain arrived this weekend after the driest November in Germany....thank goodness!  However, the Michigander in me is anxious for the snow.  Soon enough hopefully.  Everyone has said that last year was really cold and snowy, but I imagine it's nothing compared to southwest Michigan.

I'm feeling rather grateful and even though I could list my gratitude's here - I will spare least a little....

Last night we were listening to music - String Cheese Incident - and our little love "Nugget" was bouncing around and jamming to the music.  We sat and watched my baby bump moving - what an extraordinary feeling - I will never forget that moment.  I am grateful for a healthy pregnancy.

Another gratitude I must share is for sunsets.  It may sound strange as Lake Michigan is one of the best places to catch a sunset, but in the evening the sky here in Frankfurt can be brilliantly colorful especially with all the contrails.  So Frankfurt sunsets are not on the same breathtaking level as back home, but they are beautiful in there own way and I am grateful for catching a glimpse each night.

 Sunset from our balcony.

Today I am grateful to have found so many gently used and much needed baby items to buy from others through Mother's Corner an extension of the American Women's Club and through the web forum Toy Town Germany a great resource to us for all things an expat living in Germany might need. 

A final gratitude....I'm grateful you took a moment to read my blog.  I hope that we can all find a few things to be grateful for each day.  Enjoy!