Taking the Scenic Route

The Internet and TV frustration

14th August 2008

The Internet and TV frustration

Yesterday Zach went to retrieve his work email and it kept dropping after a bit, so he went to the window in hopes of a better connection.  Still didn’t work.  Found out when he went to work that the enire mail server system in North America is down for his company.  So, it wasn’t the connection this time.

However, I have noticed that the internet connection is pretty dang slow compared to what I am used to.  I finally have time to read blogs, but they don’t always come up, and almost every time I go to make a comment (especially on xanga blogs) I get dropped.  To reconnect I have to go through a huge rigamarole and lots of waiting again, so I am just not even going to try and comment any more.  lol. 

The TV is, naturally, almost all in German.  There is one channel that is in English, although I think it comes out of Britian, not America, and is another version of CNN.  Pretty much the only thing being reported right now is the War in Georgia (I think it was part of the former USSR).  There is very little Olympic coverage or non-war coverage, and there is a limit to how much I can listen to about war because it really upsets me.

Therefore, all the Olympic coverage I have seen has been pretty much on mute or very low volume (if my back is turned, so I can hear the difference when they move to another sport and see if it is something I am interested in).  I haven’t seen a single shot of Women’s Gymnastics.  None.  I am a little frustrated.  Watching gymnastics is about the only sport, outside of figure skating, that I enjoy watching, and the enjoyment of both of those sports formed when I was a little girl watching Nadia and Dorthy Hamill.  lol.  (that dates me, doesn’t it).  Finally, this morning (Thursday), I saw a few Men’s Gymnastics routines on the high bar. 

Most of the coverage is on syncronized diving (didn’t know this was an olympic sport), kayaking (didn’t know this was an olympic sport either), swimming, (although they do a lot of the prelims and I miss a lot of the finals with the Americans racing), fencing (not horrible), some sport that takes place on a field  that resembles a soccer field with teams and they use their hands to throw a ball around (I think, I am looking at a small tv at little bitty people), field hockey (I assume…I have never seen field hockey, but they have hockey sticks hitting a ball around a field), judo or karate or something like that, weight lifiting (most boring sport ever),  and some Equestrian stuff.  When the horses move around and jump over things, not so bad, but when they just walk around the ring in a pattern I don’t get what they are doing exactly and I can’t understand the commentary, so it just looks like a horse walking in circles.

I wasn’t too upset about the lack of gymnastics coverage at first because I assumed I could go online and watch it.  There were several places to watch videos online, and, naturally, some great sites from the US that would cover the people I have been following.  I learned something.  Even though I downloaded the Microsoft viewer (something I loathe doing, but it was the only way to view the videos) you can’t view anything on those sites if you are trying to connect from another country.  WHAT THE HECK!?!  I was so mad.  I tried other english speaking countries and they had the same dang policy.  So I will be watching no Olympics in English this time around.  Well, maybe the closing ceremony because we get home that day, but since TV will not be a priority, I will probably miss those too.

I just want to strangle the person who was supposed to get us the Rosetta Stone software and didn’t.  Arg!  Maybe I would understand a little more then, but you can’t really follow tv with a phrase book because they talk too fast.

For a short bit it is amusing to see American shows dubbed over because the voices are different.  In some instances, enough different to be comical to me.  I only watch about 3 minutes to hear the voices and then move on, but it is amusing for a bit.  Some of the shows I have seen:  NCIS (Abbi’s voice, in particular, is really wrong), CSI (the main redhead guy has such a distinctive voice that that one is funny to me too), Spongebob (rofl), Higglytown Heroes (annoying in any language), Rosanne (I could almost follow that one because I have seen so many of them), House (wrong, wrong, wrong), and a few other shows I recognized, but have never watched. 

The only thing we have watched more than 3 minutes of was Star Trek:  First Contact because we knew the dialoge well enough that we didn’t need to understand them, plus, we could almost understand them because we knew the English version well enough to hear the language similarities and could pick up on actual words. I bet if they showed Star Wars. Star Trek and Little House on the Prairie back to back a few times I could figure out the language because I have so many of them practically memorized.  (ok…I realize, that particualar combination is wierd, but that would be me)

I got an umbrella yesterday so that I am not stuck in the room every day because it seems to rain all of the time. I will probably still stay inside in the morning, posting, sipping coffee and tea, reading, etc, but after lunch I will go walk around the town a bit more. I feel a little better now so I want to go do something. (the stitches are now all out of my mouth. The final one let go this morning and my mouth feels much better. Still a little tender, but not horrible anymore)

posted in Attendorn, Computers, Germany, TV & Movies, Travel | 1 Comment

13th August 2008

Went to Market after Work

Woke up to fog resting on the mountains

It rained most of the day, so I stayed in the hotel room, sipping hot tea and reading a book. It was a wonderful, lazy afternoon.

When Zach got home from work we decided to go to the market to pick up a few things. Naturally, I grabbed the camera.

 

The roundabout near the market.

 

Because a junior high kid resides in me…

 

The sidewalks

 

 

The tall hedges are all over the place

 

 

 

The brickwork on the streets and sidewalks is amazing.

 

posted in Attendorn, Germany, Travel | 2 Comments

13th August 2008

Windows

A few posts back I mentioned that there seems to be two kinds of windows. I was wrong. There is one kind of window (in many cases) and it opens two ways. Observe:

Zach was told by one of his coworkers that those are typical German windows. Very cool. I want windows like that.

posted in Attendorn, Germany, Travel | 1 Comment

12th August 2008

Driving in Attendorn

In town, on the road past the hotel. (the hotel will be on the left, but I didn’t turn so it is just a blip going by)

In the surrounding countryside.

posted in Attendorn, Germany, Travel | Comments Off

12th August 2008

Ah yes, the scenery

The church with the bell tower outside our window is a big part of the experience here. It chimes every 15 minutes, with the longer chime marking the top of the hour (like the grandfather clocks where it chimes the number). Very magestic sound.

The other direction out the same window

Out the bedroom window

Driving around Attendorn. When Zach gets home from work he will get the videos on here. We thought we got them shrunk down enough last night but the computer complained when I tried to upload them this morning and there wasn’t time to fix it before he left.

posted in Attendorn, Germany, Travel | 1 Comment

12th August 2008

Shopping

Germans apparently love yogurt.  This is the yogurt selection at the small grocery store we went to yesterday.  (probably a bit bigger than our local Aldis or the Buhler Market I grew up with, but smaller than any Dillons I have been in since about the 80s)

A few meats and cheeses.  There was an amazing amount of sausages and sausage like things.  I should have taken a picture of the meat counter.  Compared to the meat counters in Kansas, it was the opposite…almost no beef, but huge cases of various kinds of sausages.

And yes, there was a LOT of chocolate.  We took pictures of it all because one of our friends grew up here and wants us to bring him back some chocolate and we want to know if he recognizes any of it from when he was a kid.  This is one of about 5 or 6 pictures.  lol

Am I reading this right?  Do they actually put Flouride in Salt?

posted in Attendorn, Food, Germany, Shopping, Travel | Comments Off

12th August 2008

The same, yet different (for the easily amused)

The Windows. Most of the windows here appear to open from the top. In our suite, all open from the top except for one that swings in. (and I see that echoed in the buildings that surround us) There aren’t any screens on windows in our suite, and I haven’t really seen them anyplace else. It surprised me considering there is no air conditioning and you have to have the windows open all of the time. This results in things like bees coming in to join you for a while. Thankfully, the bee that hung out with me yesterday left without incident. Maybe the bees are tame here.

What Can Brown Do For You? I knew they were international, but seeing a UPS (pronounced Uh-Pee-Ess here) truck in front of the hotel yesterday made me smile.

The outlet that powers my computer (if you haven’t figured it out, I am easily amused)

The squirrel I watched from my window for about half an hour yesterday. (very easily amused)

Das Google

My neighbor’s tomatoes put mine to shame. Dang. Those are some serious tomato plants.

posted in Attendorn, Germany, Travel | Comments Off

11th August 2008

Sunday Evening

We did end up sleeping for about 4 hours in the afternoon. We just couldn’t take it any more. Being up for 24 hours on only 3 hours of sleep is too much.

When we woke up we decided we needed to try and find the gas station were the guy showed us how to get gas because they had food in there too. On Sundays nothing is open except restaurants and, apparently, the gas station. We looped around a few times before we figured out where it was, but we did eventually find it. The selection was pretty slim, made slimmer by the fact we couldn’t really read anything and only wanted to guess so much since we knew we would get to a grocery store on Monday night after Zach gets home from work.

We gathered our items and they didn’t give us a receipt automatically. I hadn’t thought to memorize “I need a receipt”, so we just gathered our stuff and left. (they didn’t put it in a bag either)


Went back to the hotel and went to find some supper. The hotel restaurant was closed by then, but a little shop near it was crowded with 20-somethings, which is a good sign that it is not too expensive and tastes decent. It was a good guess. Ordering was interesting though. I did discover why so many people who visit the US order pizza…it was the only thing that we could decipher easily. We couldn’t tell what the toppings were mostly, but “Pizza Italiana” looked like a good bet for Zach, and “Pizza Margaritta” is a good guess for me. We assumed the Italiana one had onions, but were wrong. Not only did it not have onions on it, but it was wonderful. I was expecting a white sauce pizza with tomato slices on it because that is what it is in our area. It was a cheese pizza. It was good too. They didn’t have a lot of sauce on it, which was great for us since I didn’t know how to say “light sauce”.

The main hitch was that we assumed by the low price (5 Euros) that it was a tiny, personal size pizza so we each ordered one. This is what came:


At the end of the meal we obviously needed to take home the leftovers.  We used our little phrase books and found “I need a bag”.  However, after saying it about 5 times to the guy and having that “what the heck?” look on his face, we handed him the book and pointed out the phrase to him.  He was still confused as heck and after reading it a few times, tentitely reached for a plastic bag and we said yes.  So, we stacked our pizza in a plastic grocery bag.  lol.  Looked wierd, but it was close enough.  It was better than carrying it back to our room in our hands, which we would have done because it was delicious and worth the embarrasement.  After that, we were afraid to try and ask for a receipt.  lol

With the pizza, we also got a Coke.  The cans were really tall and skinny. 

When we got home we finally were able to talk to the kids and my folks via the webcam.  Zora was excited.  Zane seemed annoyed, probably because he wanted the computer back to play a game.  Mom said they were doing well and had been wanting pancakes and waffles.  lol.  Everybody looked good, which was a relief.

We flipped through the channels on the tv in the evening.  It was weird to see NCIS and CSI charaters in different voices with German accents.  There was a dubbed Brad Pitt movie on too.  We ended up watching the Olympics, eventually with the sound turned off because the sound didn’t matter and it was so quiet it felt wrong to have the tv going.

posted in Attendorn, Food, Germany, Shopping, Travel | Comments Off

11th August 2008

Breakfast and the Sweet Suite

We pulled up the hotel and parked in an area that looked more like a patio than a parking lot. He took us inside, where it looked like a restaurant, not a hotel. Zach and the driver retrieved the bags while the hotel guy disappeared and I stood there not sure what to do. Eventually, the guys returned with the luggage and the hotel guy returned with the key. The two German guys talked a bit, then turned to us and asked if we wanted breakfast. We said yes, so they said to put our bags near the door and the driver left. We sort of stood there and looked at each other and the hotel guy disappeared again. I read someplace that you usually seat yourself in most German restaurants, but wasn’t sure if we should just help ourselves to the food at the buffet or not.

Eventually the dude came back and basically got across to us that we should go eat. lol. So we did. It was a continental breakfast with some rolls, a meat and cheese tray, yogurt (we guessed by the packaging) some fruit, some juice, and eggs (I assume they were hard boiled, but didn’t really want to take the chance). We got a roll and meats and yogurt and then tried to figure out how we were supposed to eat the meat and just put them on the roll and made a sandwich. No idea if we were tacky or not, but it didn’t really seem like finger food and we happened to sit at a table with no silverware. Eventually somebody came by and asked if we wanted coffee. YES! I figured out which of the little packets was cream and poured what I hoped was sugar from one of the shakers at the table. (it was…thank goodness…salt in coffee would have been bad). The thing we thought was yogurt tasted mostly like yogurt (or something akin to it if not). The food was good. The meat and cheese was especially good…more flavor or something. Maybe the preservatives are different in it because it didn’t have that plasticy aftertaste a lot of cold cuts do when you get them from the supermarket. I am going to get spoiled here, I can tell.

Nobody gave us a bill for the food and we sat there not knowing what to do for a while. (a theme that will be repeated often in this trip). Eventually we tracked down the guy that greeted us at the door and he had our room key. He indicated that Viega pays for the breakfast, but didn’t give us anything to sign. He said he would show us to the room which was around the corner in a different building. (The patio/parking lot has a green triangle, the building we are staying in has a red circle. You have to walk around on the street, walking in front of the hotel bar/restaurant, and a little shop where we had supper later)

So, we followed around the corner down one of those one-car streets and showed Zach where he could park the car, how to work the key to the building and we went up three flights of stairs (again, me with my luggage trying not to look like I was having a rough time with it) to another weird doorknob (pictured) and a sign that said “Rosen Suite”.

We went into the room and it was still being made up, he said it would be another half an hour until it was ready, so we left our luggage there and slipped back out the door and down the stairs, trying to decide what to do. We walked a little, but it was raining and we had no umbrella, so that didn’t last long. We went back to the hotel, this time into the bar area instead of the breakfast room to see if we could get a cup of coffee and sit while we waited. We said coffee, the same thing as earlier, but this time we got espresso. Really good, but not what we were expecting. Another couple came in and had the same thing, so I guess we weren’t doing anything weird (like sitting in a restaurant that is supposed to be closed but they let the stupid Americans in anyway). We sat there for about 45 minutes, and didn’t have anybody offer refills (or really even come back into the dining room) and weren’t sure what to do about the bill, again. Finally the guy came back and we asked if we needed to sign anything. We aren’t sure of what exactly he said, but he said something about Viega paying and disappeared again. He didn’t come back, so I guess we don’t have to sign anything. I tell you what….years of working in hotels and restaurants make “not signing” anything feel really uncomfortable.

We went back to the room and they were done. Wow, what a room. I was expecting a small room with a big bed and just hoping that we had a private bathroom. We had that, plus a kitchenette, a sofa, a table, and a tv area.

In the kitchen are two burners, a microwave, a coffee maker, and a built-in hidden (as in we didn’t discover that it was behind the cabinet for a while) fridge. In the shelves were plates coffee cups and a large selection of various wine glasses. Underneath were pots and pans, and there was silverware in the drawers. There was even a spice rack with 6 spices in it on the counter.

On the table was a tray with two bottles of sparkling mineral water and glasses made especially for mineral water and some gummy sheep. (sheep? I’ve seen bears and worms, but sheep was a new one. lol) In one of my German books it said that people in Germany don’t drink tap water, even though it is good quality and fine to drink. Everybody drinks sparkling water instead, so this showed me that book was probably on target.

In the bathroom the sink is huge and the toilet is attached to the wall. There are two buttons to press above it. After some trial, I think that one of the buttons is for a smaller flush and one is for a larger flush.

Some of the view…I will take more pictures when the light is better. It was really gray outside.

I am just enjoying the view.

Zach is trying to get an internet connection. (we ended up getting one just fine from the kitchen table, so I am posting from there, not the window. It would be pretty, but there is 4 story drop to the ground which is just begging for an expensive accident.)

Now, if anybody can tell me what this thing is, I would appreciate it. It is next to our door. (the top square toggle is like all of the light switches, but it doesn’t appear to go to anything. Not sure what the little box thing under it is)

posted in Attendorn, Food, Germany, Travel | 3 Comments

11th August 2008

The plane ride and the first drive.

The ride here was actually pretty decent. Both times it was too bumpy to read most of the time, although I did try anyway when the clouds made any sort of view impossible. ( looked like we were flying through cotton candy for a while).

We didn’t have any checked luggage (just our two rolling carry-on luggage, me with my purse, Zach with his computer case with the work laptop and our personal laptop.) The closest thing to a snag we had was a complaint that we are only supposed to have one laptop per case, but they let us go through because there were two people attached to the laptops (one laptop per person). We made sure we didn’t have to go back through security again so we didn’t take the chance of a problem. I really didn’t want to have to jam the personal laptop into my luggage and it certainly wasn’t going to fit into my purse.

The Dallas airport had these cool tram things. We walked down stairs from the airplane (which surprised me because it wasn’t a puddle hopper….the seats were 2 on one side, 3 on the other, a pretty big plane for going out of Wichita) and I had the daunting task of carrying my luggage down steep stairs. I am not known for my balance on stairs anyway and being stuck in the middle of people hauling a load like that made me a little nervous. We then walked over to this little tram thing which took us to the building. In the building we had to walk over to a little fixed track tram station and get on that to go to another building. It was sort of like an above ground subway. (keep in mind, I am from Kansas and the only time I have ever even seen public transportaion up live and in person was a New York City Subway….again, when I was on vacation, back in the late 80s). It went considerable faster than I was anticipating. Zane would have loved it, it resembled a flatter version of a roller coaster and was totally automated. The voice reminded us of the “jonny cab” from Total Recall. lol

I also had to take a lot of deep breaths and just go for it when faced with mountainous escalators with the rolling luggage. I was glad I didn’t have to deal with checked bags, but we were really not used to dealing with luggage at all.

At the airport Zach got some McDonalds, and I was happy to see a Smoothie King store because it takes me forever to eat something because I have to navigate around the landmines in my mouth right now. It took a long time to drink the smoothie too because it was so thick I was scared I was going to pop off the scabs and get dry socket in my mouth. I don’t have that many pain pills left. lol.

For the flight to Germany we were 3 rows from the very back of the plane, in the middle section. When we went to sit down, there was a dude in one of our seats who gave us the dirtiest look when he realized he wasn’t going to get to sit on the isle seat. He moved in to his seat, and not long after take off disappeared and never came back. (he found an empty isle seat in another row). That made the trip a little more pleasant because he seemed pretty grumpy.

We watched 3 movies on the plane…Prince Caspian, that Panda Kung Fu cartoon one (can’t remember the name) and Iron Man. It really helped pass the time. I also flipped to the “Flight” view and watched the plane move over the map, sort of like the flight view I watched when Zach’s plane was in the air from home. It was neat to see where we were, even if I couldn’t see out the window. There were some tense moments for me when I saw us turning around over Tennessee area. We couldn’t feel that we were turning around in the plane, but we were making a big loop. Then it circled back around and went back on the path. We flew over the southern US, then up the coast over New York and Boston (yeah, killing me that I couldn’t see out the plane) and on up the coast over Canada and those big island just off of Canada. The next time we were over land was Ireland, then England, then France and on to Frankfort. I asked the pilot why the loop as we deboarded and he said that they lost radio contact with Atlanta and wouldn’t let them fly through the airspace until they regained contact. So, no mechanical problems or threats (at least the explanation seemed reasonable and easily offered, so I will take him at his word).

We were jammed in there like sardines and there was no way we could sleep. One thing that sort of pissed me off was that everyone on the plane closed the freakin’ windows before it was even dark. I can guarantee you that if I sat near a window, it would not be closed as long as there was a view. What is the point of getting a window seat if you don’t look out the window? I got up and went “to the bathroom” a few more times than necessary just to go look out the little window in the back exit next to the flight attendant station. I am a dork.

Since we were clear in the back of the plane, it took forever to wait to get off the plane. It did finally give us a few moments to dig out the camera and snap a few pictures…

The airport, unlike Wichita and Dallas, was not nearly as upscale and modern, at least the part we saw wasn’t. It looked very institutional and it seemed like we wound through a lot of basement corridors. We got our passports stamped and went through the baggage claim area (we didn’t have to wait for bags though) and saw a guy standing there holding a sign for us. In the parking garage we got our first look at how different the cars are here. Almost no Fords or other American cars, but all of the cars that are expensive at home are all over the place here. There are also a lot of cars that we have never seen before in interesting shapes. (need to take pictures of the cars for my car-geek family)

Leaving the parking garage we finally go our first glance of Germany. It was drizzling and gray, much like Wichita was when we left. There are LOTS of trees here. A lot more than I am used to. It seemed like we were driving through a forest most of the time. I learned that the “autobahn” is not just one road (don’t know why I thought that, but I thought it was one road that you could drive really fast on) it is basically the same thing as our interstate highway, but you can drive really fast on it. In Frankfort the architecture didn’t look that much different than any large city, but as we drove the couple of hours to Attendorn, we began to see the skylines change a lot. Lot of white houses with interesting roofs and every so often a church steeple with gothic spires.

I am not sure if Attendorn is considered to be in mountains or foothills (if it is mountains, they are certainly not like Colorado’s mountains…they are rounder), but it is much more hilly than I was expecting. We went around an enormous lake with huge bridges spanning it every so often. A long bike path curved around with the road most of the way once we got off the highway.

Once in town, the driver made the comment “it isn’t hard to get around here” and both of us had the same thought…maybe not for you, but there isn’t a square corner anywhere and this has got to be the biggest maze of streets we could have ever imagined. It isn’t a big town, but everything seems to go in circles and normal sized streets suddenly give way to narrow one-car streets that have no logic, and he didn’t even slow down. Driving will be interesting.

The driver was very nice, but must have thought we were the biggest idiots in the world when we asked him how to get gas in the car. It is a diesel, and besides not being able to read the signs, we didn’t really know how the pumps worked or if we had to pay first or anything, so he took us to fill it up with gas before dropping us off in the hotel. By the way he was answering our question I think he didn’t think we knew what “diesel” was. I know what diesel is, but I am not used to seeing it at a typical gas station. (farmer’s co-ops have diesel, but not the local Quick Trips/7-11 type places) lol. I knew it was very bad to put regular gas in a diesel and wanted to make sure we didn’t make that, very expensive, mistake.

posted in Attendorn, Germany, Travel | 1 Comment

  • Zane's age

  • Zane is 19 years, 1 month, and 30 days old
  • Zora's age

  • Zora is 15 years, 2 months, and 3 days old
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  • Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. — John 14:27

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