Thursday, September 15, 2005

Finally The Story Begins!

Yes, I've been slacking on the blog. No, I haven't been slacking in real life. I've been working hard at work, and last weekend was the aforementioned wedding up in Albany. So here are a couple pictures of the vacation, and of course there will be much more later. I will also be sharing some interesting aspects of Europe that I have noticed from last year's Switzerland trip and this year's Germany/Austria trip. The cities that I visited on this trip were Munich and Hechingen (near Stuttgart, where my American cousin and his German family live) in Germany, and Salzburg and Vienna in Austria. In German, it's actually "München" and "Wien" (pronounced "Veen"), for Munich and Vienna, and the other two are the same in both languages. These first two pictures are from Munich. The first picture is a cute barmaid holding up a couple beers...just kidding. It's actually my cute wife doing that!



We were in the English Garden in Munich, which is a huge, almost Central Park proportioned park. It has fields, trees, a creek winding through it, lots of paths, a restaurant, a Chinese tower where they play live music quite often, some food stands selling pretzels, roasted nuts, and other goodies. Bikers were everywhere. A bunch of people were playing softball. Others were playing with frisbees. There were a couple spots where people were putting on impromptu concerts with bongo drums or xylophones or combinations of instruments, with small crowds of onlookers. We ate outside at the little restaurant there. We had just gotten off the plane shortly before we got there, and we decided to eat at the restaurant. Our waitress was very nice. I spoke a lot of German with her for the first part of the meal, but then she went over to English when she started talking about the lederhosen-clad musicians in the tower that they played a lot of American tunes. I had some sort of cut of steak with dried onions and a type of brown sauce on it I believe. Chris got the apple strudel for dessert, which I had a few bites of as well. It was incredible! It was served as a big thick slice in a bowl of vanilla pudding sauce. Best apple strudel I ever had, and to be honest I might have to include apple pie in that too! I should have gotten one for myself, but I knew there would be other opportunities. It's Germany's version of apple pie, a folk favorite, and they have it almost everywhere. Of course, I think Austrians claim to have invented it, but that's another story. They also claim to have invented the croissant. Who knows, maybe they did?

Anyway, the next day we had the world famous Hofbräuhaus beer hall high on the list of things to see. While we were finding things to do before dinner, we happened upon the Jagd und Fischerei Museum (Hunting and Fishing Museum), which had lots of stuffed animals of all kinds, and no, not beanie babies. These were all hunted and fished animals, and there was also quite an impressive collection of old rifles used by the gentry of the time, with fancy inlay patterns on the stocks and everything. The old sleighs were also pretty neat. I have pictures of those too, but for now here is a picture of me outside the museum with a bronze boar. More to come!

10 comments:

Imara said...

Sounds like you two had a wonderful time!

It would be interesting to read about what the "average man on the street" had to say about America and it's policies. Did you get a vibe on that? If so, will you do a post about it?

Erik Grow said...

Actually, I didn't talk to anyone about that too much, but I did talk a bit about German politics with one guy. It was interesting. He was hoping that Schröder would be re-elected. He said that the flat tax was a really bad idea, which of course he is correct on. Their election is coming up very soon now.

AndiM said...

Germans' opinion on the US? Hm ... ok, that's a difficult topic.
The broad mass of people will tell you here: USA = Bush = bad. Of course most people have understood why the US went to Afghanistan after 9/11, no question there. The problem the Germans with Bush's "War on terror" starts with the invasion of Iraq. Most people saw the weapons of mass destruction which Bush claimed to be in Saddam's hands only as a imaginary reason for the States to get their hands on the oil fields in Iraq. The other problem for many people over here was imo the way Bush and friends dealt with the UN.
Just a note towards the German election today: Schröder was, as you migh know, one of those European politicians who said "No" to the Iraq War and is seen as the "Freedom Chancelor" by quite many Germans, which was one of the mayor reasons why he was re-elected back in 2002. Now in his 2005 election campaigne he's playing that card again and many people are getting convinced by this. That's kind of ridiciolous to me: Germany has currently far more important issues (especially economy and our school and university system) on the desk than arguing about US foreign politics. If this is one of the reasons for another Schröder victory tonight I'll just once more bang my head on some wall for all those Germans not caring about the REALLY IMPORTANT issues and problems ...

Erik Grow said...

Hey Andi! I just tried to call you, but nobody was there. Yes, I know you have the huge election coming up. What I hear though is that Merkel wants to have a flat tax. I think that is insane. It will end up with the people with the highest incomes paying less. I want to be rich one day too, but I also want to pay my fair share! Do you think she would really put in a flat tax if she were elected, and is this something you want?

AndiM said...

Hm, it isn't Merkel herself who brought up that idea. It's been Paul Kirchhoff, former judge at the "Bundesverfassungsgericht" (Germany's highest court concerning our constitution ) and expert at Merkel's team for financial things.
His plans are NOT ONLY about the flat tax, although that's what Schröder and his party try to tell the people. And it's not about making the rich people richer as well: Besides the flat tax he wants to cut a lot (K. says about 450 or something like that) possibilities to save money from the taxes, which is one of our system's mayor problems imo: The rich people don't pay many taxes 'cause there are too many ways to avoid that. Secondly with Kirchhoff's system families don't have to pay that many taxes. E.g. a family with 2 children would have to pay taxes only for their income above 34.000 Euros.

AndiM said...

Ok, I wanted to add a few things before sending that comment ;-), but something went wrong *g*. Hm ... The number for a family with 4 people in one household refers of course to the income per year. The free sum of income is supposed to be afaik 8.000 per person and 2.000 in adition.
So yes I'm prefering the flat tax. Finally it's far more social justice than the current system, where only the rich people can afford investments which help them avoiding paying taxes to some degree.
Btw: I was at home, but I guess I've been downstaris with my parents drinking coffee and eating a cake (no Apfelstrudel ;-)). So I didn't hear my telephone ringing here upstairs.

Imara said...

Thanks for the German political update. Very interesting!

AndiM said...

Has there been any "big" coverage on the results of the German election in the US? Schröder has shown a quite disturbing attitude towards Merkel and the media at a tv show at the night of the election. In some way he's really addicted to power ...

Tom McMahon said...

Erik, how did an ordinary guy like yourself get to marry the St. Pauli Girl? :-)

Erik Grow said...

Hah! Yeah, no kidding!