Auf Wiedersehen und Danke schön!

goodbye

Nuremberg in Numbers:

Twenty-four: the number of weeks I was living in Germany.

Three and a half: the number of months winter lasted.

Eight hundred and sixty-four: the number of hours I worked.

Five: the number of wonderfully dedicated people who came to visit me.

Nine: the number of days I have left.

 

It has been a long journey, but it’s finally coming to an end. I feel like I’ve been here so long at this stage, that I’m pretty much a part of the furniture. However, I feel like a piece of furniture which is living in the wrong house. I have been put there for a while until my old home is ready for me to move back into it again, and every day for the last one hundred and seventy two days I have been looking forward to returning to my proper abode. I’ve been waiting (not always patiently) to come home.

Now, I am on the final stretch. The road before me is smooth and I can just about see the finish line up ahead. It hasn’t always been this way though. There were times along the way when I thought I would never reach the end. I felt tired and alone and I just wanted to sit down in the middle of the path and cry. Cry so hard that my tears formed a river beneath me and carried me the rest of the distance I needed to travel.

But looking back now, I’m glad I walked this route. It wasn’t something I was looking forward to and it definitely isn’t six months I would like to repeat again, but I feel a great sense of accomplishment, knowing that I can do this (and have done it!) on my own.

Despite the fact that winter here lasted what seemed like an eternity and was the coldest in Germany since way back when, I don’t want to paint a picture completed covered with thick, dark clouds, because I feel that would be unfair. Unfair to a city which, I’ll openly admit, is beautiful. The buildings here have been rebuilt and there is a wonderful mix of the old and the new. Riverside cafés, pretzel stands and bakeries filled with assorted glazed pastries on every corner, market stalls specializing in every possible knick-knack, along with an abundance of fountains and statues all contribute to the character of the city.

Of course there will be people and things which I will miss: my work colleagues (i.e my work friends) and the crazy conversations we have together and the uncontrollable laughter which follows, the friends I have made in the apartment complex, the public transport system here (seriously, why can’t there be U-Bahns at home?), the regular restaurants which I frequent and their welcoming staff and last –but by no means least- pretzels! Trying to imagine a world without pretzels is just heartbreaking! Although for the past twenty years I have survived just fine knowing little of their existence, I now find myself wondering “without pretzels, what’s the point?” I figure I’ll just try and stuff as many of them as possible into my case (and face!) before coming home!

So, to sum up, Germany –and Nuremberg in particular- is a very picturesque place. There are some wonderful people here, some great sights and some DELICIOUS breads! This has definitely been an experience to remember, something which has helped me to grow and become independent, and a reminder of how much my home, family and friends mean to me.

Thanks for all the memories, I’ll never forget them.

I guess all that’s left to say now is:

Auf Wiedersehen, Deutschland!

Another Eggscuse for Chocolate

*drool*

*drool*

*WARNING: this post will contain numerous Easter puns (see the above blog title), all in very poor taste. It is your job, as dedicated readers, to A.) Find all of these puns and B.) Add your own ones in the ‘comments’ section below. Eggstreme dedication and patience required*

Easter is just around the corner and we all know that means one thing: Easter eggs! Eggsciting stuff, right? That’s right, Tesco (American version = Fresh & Easy, I think) are offering their ever-tempting deal of 2 eggs for €3 (I’m not working out the dollar/ any other currency rate) and I plan on scrambling to the store and taking advantage of this offer when I am home (I’m flying home tomorrow night for a few days over Easter… but more about that in tomorrow’s blog!).

Anyhoo, as I was saying… Easter! Basically, if you’ve been living under a rock for the last few hundred centuries, then Easter is celebrated at the end of Lent in memory of Jesus’ death and resurrection. More recently though, the tradition has become a lot more commercialized (hasn’t everything?) and the notion of Easter eggs has gradually seeped into multiple cultures. In Ireland, for example, the Easter eggs that we have come in an eggscellent range of sizes; small, medium, large (you get the gist!). In Germany, I’ve noticed that the eggs seem to be much smaller (but I could be wrong, that’s just what I’ve observed from my time spent shopping in Aldi).

Personally, I love Easter eggs, because for some uneggsposed reason the chocolate they use for the eggs tastes absolutely AMAZING and WAY better than it does for the rest of the year (even though I’m presuming it’s the same chocolate that they use… odd!). And yes, before you ask: I am a self-confessed chocoholic (Dairymilk and Galaxy are my favourites!)

But I’m not actually writing this blog post to inform you about my eggstra strong love for chocolate. I’m actually here to tell you a little bit about how Easter is celebrated in some other countries, because what is life without diversity! So here we go:

*Sidenote- This is, of course, just a very tiny sample of some Easter customs, as I am not an eggspert in this area. Please feel free to add traditions from your own country/ any other countries whose traditions you know of. I like to learn about new places! Thank you *

Germany- is regarded as the birthplace of modern day Easter icons like the Easter bunny and the Easter tree. Children in Germany have to find eggs and chocolates hidden by the Easter bunny (Osterhase) on Easter Sunday. Other traditions include baking lamb-shaped cakes and hanging painted eggs from the Easter tree with colourful ribbon.

France- incorporates the Easter Fish and Flying Bells into its Easter festivities. On April 1st, as an April Fool’s Day trick, the children try and stick a paper fish onto the backs of as many adults as possible. The Flying Bells (Cloche volant) symbolize the mourning of Christ and are rung on Easter Sunday morning to bring chocolate and eggs to the children.

Russia- participates in the tradition of decorating the Easter eggs. Eggs are usually painted red, to symbolize Christ’s blood. The family dinner is also a very important part of Easter in Russia. Cakes known as kulich (кулич) are baked and families play games with the eggs, such as smashing two boiled eggs off each other and seeing which one breaks.

Hungary- does things a little differently! A bucket of water is poured onto a woman of the Palóc minority on Sunday and Monday. The woman wears her traditional clothing while she has the water thrown at her.

Norway- also cherishes an interesting tradition. Not only do they carry around pieces of bread in their pockets on Holy Saturday, but there is the belief that all murders will be solved at Easter and so detective films are usually shown on the television and magazines publish crime stories.

And that’s Easter in a nut shell… or should I say in an egg shell! (Oh c’mon, someone had to say it!) I look forward to hearing any other egg-related puns you may have to offer, but please remember- try to be original with them, we’re trying to crack people up here!

As always, hugs xo

Good enough to eat!

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Ok, so it’s ca. lunchtime now and I’m a bit peckish (I’m being polite; I’m actually rather hungry… as in “the little apple on the back of my iPhone is starting to look good” hungry!). So my quandary is this: what to eat?

I could be a healthy eater and bring a lunch from home, but that is no good to me because:

A.)   I’m already at work and I see no pre-packed lunch in sight (well, not unless I eat my coworker’s lunch, but I doubt she’d appreciate that!)                                -and-

B.)    I tend to try and get a dinner at lunch time because my cooking facilities at “home”/room are fairly meager, and the thought of trying to cook something in the evenings is rather daunting

So… options in the proximity are limited, as where I work is just out of the city centre, i.e. all the restaurants/cafés/etc are juuussst outta reach. However, I have stumbled across a few gems:

1-      The bar around the corner: I know what you’re thinking- a bar? At 1pm? Seriously?! But I don’t go there for their drinks (unless I’m having a really rough day!); rather I go there for their tasty lunch menu. Although there’s not a vast choice of options, they have weekly specials, which I think is a great idea, as it keeps things fresh. Plus, the food there is really nice, so you don’t really mind!

2-      Then there’s the pizzeria across the road: again, another small joint with “the regulars” (me and a few old Italian men), but there’s such a nice feeling when you walk in there and are greeted by ‘ciaos’ and those ever-practical plastic table-coverings. The owner used to always give me my Coke on the house, and this could be why I feel in part responsible for them going out of business. Yes, much to my horror, last Friday I saw the awful sign in their window; “Zur Vermietung” (For Rent, for all the non-Germans out there). I really liked that place, as the chef (Little Old Italian Man #1) made the nicest pepperoni pizza in the world! (and his lasagna wasn’t bad either). So I guess I won’t be frequenting there anymore… Arrivederci Pizzeria!

3-      The Thai restaurant down the street: good food, good value. What can I say; I’m a sucker for a soy-covered bargain!

4-      The bagel place further down the street: only just discovered this place last week, but I’m so glad I did! I haven’t found that many (if any) places that sell bagels here and this made me sad, as my mum used to make really delicious bagels at home. But this little spot offers bagels, fruit salads, salads that don’t have fruits in them, coffee, tea (the German kind, unfortunately, but still!), cookies, doughnuts and brownies- what more could you want? (apart from regular Irish tea, naturally!)

And I think that’s it really… there was this other place that I tried once, and I regret going there no end! I got soup, or something claiming to be soup, with purple bits in it and it tasted like crap and then I was charged a tenner for it. For “soup”?! Crazy talk! Needless to say, they didn’t get a tip from me! (Tip: learn how to make proper soup… And then charge accordingly!)

Anyway, now I’m definitely hungry after all that talk of food! I still don’t know where I’m going to go for lunch/dinner, but I figure once I get outside into the open air, my bloodhound-like nose will guide me in the right direction!

Bon appétit!

A certain je na sais quoi

Eiffel Tower

What is it that attracts me to languages, words, different countries, cultures and people?
That’s exactly it, je na sais quoi!
There are a number of reasons why I (and I presume other people) love languages, words, countries, cultures and people.
I’ve listed some of my reasons below (feel free to add any of your own or even agree with mine) –

_Languages sound cool (try and deny it, but they do)

_People who speak different languages sound cool (mostly)

_Words allow us to say things (very helpful in everyday life)

_Words also allow us to sing things (either in the shower or in the company of others, depending on the level of talent)

_Countries are fun to visit and explore

_They provide lots of different (and colourful) flags to hang outside official buildings (or to sew together and make a cool new quilt)

_Different cultures mean different food (and you can’t say no to that)

_Experiencing a variety of cultures usually makes people more open-minded (usually)

_People (because maintaining a conversation with yourself can only last so long)

_Different people mean having a family, friends, a boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, co-workers, bosses, etc. etc. to interact with (or to sing to, if you have the aforementioned talent)

Weekend! / Wochenende! :)

weekendwochenende