Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Christmas Market

Christmas has exploded in Wiesbaden. The downtown is decorated so beautifully with garlands, ribbons and lights on all the buildings and the Christmas market is the place to be every night. The entire market square is filled with booths of Christmas ornaments, nativities, nutcrackers and many drinks and goodies as well. The smell of the chestnuts roasting and hot cider makes me want to bust out in the "Christmas Song" as I walk around the market. In the park, there is an ice-skating rink set-up and I can't wait to try it out. I've only ice skated once and that was several years ago, so it should be interesting.

Each time I leave the apartment I find myself humming "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" and I guess you could say that I'm definitely in the Christmas spirit. I've been enjoying shopping for Christmas presents the past few days and discovering new stores and shopping areas I'd never been to before. Although I am so very tempted to simply shop for myself, I have to remember that Christmas is about giving, not receiving (or something like that).

It's hard to believe that I will be in Texas in exactly one week from today on the 12th. There is so much to do between now and then, and I simply want to enjoy every moment I get to experience this picturesque Christmas setting. Jon and I are both performing in our Christmas play at church, (he's speaking and I'm speaking and singing) and have lots of rehearsals this week before the performance on Sunday. We also will be attending Jon's squadron Christmas party on Friday and I'm really looking forward to having an excuse to dress-up.

I hope everyone has a fabulous day and just remember - it's the most wonderful time of the year!

P.S. If you voted on our last poll (see right sidebar) the results for the Christmas card survey have been considered, and the picture has been taken. It should be a lovely surprise for you all!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Back from the Field

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Back to the world of running water, we find our heroes in the throes of a marathon viewing of the newly-purchased "Scrubs-season 6." Cabin fever has never been more fun to catch. Gone are aspirations of glacier climbing or Swiss heli-skiing, instead we capitulate into our own thrill of syndicated TV on DVD.
This time is really more important than we thought, but an excess of thinking we aren't. To the right you'll find the heated debate of the holiday here in Clough outpost East. Cast your vote with confidence for the Season's greeting you deem best.
Thank you,
Team Clough

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Leipzig and Liz

It has been three weeks and two days since Jon left on his exercise and I am happy to say that he will be home again tonight. Woo hoo! Although I've missed him greatly, of course, the time has gone by quickly and it's been fantastic to spend so much time with girlfriends. In order to have one last hoo-rah, I went to the east German town of Leipzig this past weekend to visit Elisabeth, a former exchange student at Baylor from last fall. Like all my 0ther visits with former exchange students, it was a fantastic reunion with a friend and I very much enjoyed visiting this new city.

I left for Leipzig on Saturday morning on one of the only trains from Frankfurt heading east due to the expansive train strike that is the largest in German history. This all-encompassing strike let up for two days during the window of time that I planned to visit Elisabeth, which worked perfectly for me. I arrived in Leipzig right on time and we immediately went to her apartment to drop off my bags and have lunch. It was so fun to see someone I hadn't seen in a year and reminisce about all the fun times we shared together, such as the Halloween party I had at my house in Waco last year. That is the only time she met Jon, however she doesn't even know what he looks like, considering he was wearing his Zorro costume the whole night and talking with a mysterious Spanish accent. Elisabeth spent the last spring and summer terms in northern Spain, so it was great to hear about her continuation of her year abroad.

Later we trekked downtown to walk around the city center and see some of the very unique architecture that remains. Of course, much of the city has simple architecture and abandoned buildings due to communist times, however the history of this city is quite impressive. The church to the left is the Thomaskirsche church where Johann Sebastian Bach taught music for several years. He is also buried in the church.

This is a statue of Goethe in front of a miniature palace that was actually used as a commerce and trading hall. Now, it is used for banquets, weddings, etc.

This building is the impressive old town hall located in the main square of the downtown. Presently, it is filled with booths and a large Christmas tree waiting to be opened and lighted when the Christmas Markets will begin in the next week.

After a tour of the town, we went to a dinner party at her friends house that turned out to be a very cultural experience. There were many Palestinian people there and other Arabic-speaking people, so the languages would shift from German to Arabic and English many times during the night. Other than Elisabeth, only a couple other people could speak some English, so it was the shot in the arm I needed in order to be motivated about learning German and sticking with my classes. Afterward, the two of us went downtown to have a cocktail. The nightlife was really great and there were so many young people around as it is a university town. I very much enjoyed my Leipzig experience, but most of all, it was great to reunite with another friend. I am so lucky to have so many throughout Europe!
On Thursday, Jon and I plan to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends by going to the dining facility on base. Last Friday, many of the wives from the squadron prepared dishes (I made sweet potato casserole) for our squadron Thanksgiving dinner. It was so great to have a taste of the goodness you all will be having this week, and I'm looking forward to having it again Thursday - even if it is cafeteria-style. I'm not sure what our plans are for this weekend, but we will probably end up traveling somewhere and will report about the adventures as always.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Baylor Gathering in Heidelberg

This past week was another busy one in the life of the solo Frau, as I stayed active with social gatherings and even a bit of work.

The week began with a bit of "rebellion" as I decided to finally stop merely talking about going brunette and actually coloring my hair a more "natural" color. The different hair color coupled with a big chop to the hair has been quite shocking for me, and I've experienced a variety of emotions this past week from absolutely loving the feel of a new look, to completely regretting the decision every time I looked at the stranger in the mirror. After having this new style almost a week, I'm very glad I did it, even if only to experience something new. So many times I get in a rut with my hair and never dare to do anything different, so it's nice to feel like I've branched out somewhat. It's funny how I have no problem being adventurous in other aspects of my life, such as moving to Germany, traveling on my own, training for marathons, etc., but when it comes to hair, whoa - now that's a toughie!

On Thursday, I attended my last recruiting fair this fall in the charming town of Heidelberg, about an hour southeast of Wiesbaden. The fair was held at the Heidelberg High School on base and although it was sparsely attended, the highlight was meeting other Baylor alums who live in the area. I had met two of the alums previously, as one lives in Mainz (near Wiesbaden) and the other, Rachelle, coordinated the Diadeloso Jon and I attended in Berlin earlier this summer. I arrived in Heidelberg early in order to meet up with Rachelle to have lunch and tour downtown Heidelberg, where she lives.

It is such an adorable downtown, and where Wiesbaden has a more generic European architecture, Heidelberg has the typical German architecture you would expect. Although the town is a little bit smaller than Wiesbaden, I feel the shopping is better as they have a university in Heidelberg, and therefore have a more young feel to the city. The town is situated on a river with hills surrounding the downtown area and a commanding schloss (castle) situated above the town. I very much enjoyed the town as well as meeting fellow Baylor alums who may have been out of college for quite some time, but still remember their days at Baylor so fondly.

The remainder of the weekend was filled with dinners with friends, and of course, some more girl time. Jon's birthday was Friday and he turned the big 2-8! I wish I could have celebrated with him, but we will do something special when he returns on the 20th. I think in all the years we've dated, we've maybe spent 1 or 2 actual birthdays together, as we've always had to celebrate before or later. Isn't it nice we can keep that tradition alive (he hee)!

This week I will try my hand at some more cooking as our squadron is having a pot luck Thanksgiving dinner on Friday, and I signed up to bring a sweet potato casserole. It should be interesting! Have a wonderful Monday!

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Solo Frau

It's been one week since Jon left for his 3-week exercise in southern Germany, but I've managed to keep very busy and feel I will gain new independence by doing the small tasks of daily living abroad on my own. This is something I haven't felt in a while, considering Jon and I have spent so much time together since we've been married. Of course this togetherness was very much needed, considering the distance we spent apart over the course of our dating and engagement. When I first heard about his 3 week stint away from me, I thought how awful it was that we have to go through this when we've only been married 6 months. But then I realized how many of the friends I've made here who recently had their husbands deploy for 8 months. Note to self - don't complain about Jon only being gone 3 weeks, because it could be much worse! Of course my time will come to go through a long deployment separation as well, but luckily, this it if not now and 3 weeks will be a piece of cake.

The worries I had about being apart were not because I thought I would miss him too much, but because it's a different feeling to be on your own in a foreign country with no car and support system of co-workers or family nearby. I have been pleasantly surprised at how wonderful my friends have been and realized for the first time, what an incredible support system I do indeed have over here. And the driving predicament, that is something I aspire to overcome - to drive standard. A friend will be helping to teach me to drive Jon's car this week, and hopefully by the time he gets back, I'll be good to do, that is if I don't completely burn out his clutch. Already I've left my black marks all over the roads on base from my last lesson. Why does the whole clutch and gas balance thing have to be so difficult?

This past week has felt like the good 'ole college days when I would hang with the girls 24/7 with little responsibility. It was nice to have so much quality time with friends who also have husbands away and go to the gym, hiking in the woods, visiting the thermal bath, going to dinner together and even have sleepovers. I must admit I didn't get too much work done or my German homework completed, but it sure did make the week go by quickly and was a ton of fun! Last Tuesday was my first time to visit the famous thermal baths in Wiesbaden, which are spas that were built in here during the Roman times due to the natural hot springs in this area. The particular spa we visited was the Kaiser-Friedrich Bath or Roman-Irish bath. The artistic furnishings, paintings, reliefs and ornaments of the building remind me of the luxurious and magnificent buildings in ancient Greek and Roman times. The baths are thought to provide an oasis for recuperation and relaxation and even treatment for rheumatic illnesses. The spa is complete with a Stone Steam bath, Russian Steam bath, Finnish Sauna, Solarium, pools and hot tubs in varying temperatures. It was a amazing! Other than the first few minutes being extremely awkward, as you have to be completely naked when entering the spa, I got over that quickly when I realized every other spa-goer was about 30 years older than me. Luckily, I went on a ladies only day, so I didn't have to deal with the shock of naked old men. By the end, I felt so liberated to be walking around naked, knowing that it's completely normal to everyone else and to have the most relaxing evening I've experienced in a long time.

The other highlight of my week was a Halloween Party on Saturday night. My friend, Nancy, who I went with was going as Tinkerbell, so I decided to go as Peter Pan. The outfit was definitely thrown together at the last minute and some thought I looked more gangsta than fairytale, but hey, at least I dressed up. It was a really fun night full of dancing and even karaoke. It was so incredibly fun and I was so glad I was able to celebrate Halloween, even though my partner in crime was missing.

As for getting around, I've been pedaling my way all around town to go to church three times a week, the commissary, etc. Although my bike sure is pretty, the single-speed back-pedal-brake beauty sure is difficult when needing to climb hills. One thing's for sure, I am getting some good leg workouts! Today I have dedicated the afternoon to do my German homework for my class tonight. I am determined to at least be able to say a complete paragraph before I leave this country!

Happy Monday everyone!