26 April 2009

Frankfurt and German Wedding Traditions

Grüße von Deutschland! Greetings from Germany!

Ryan and I arrived safe and sound on Friday morning after leaving Seattle on Thursday afternoon. Our Luftansa flight was fine, considering our seat bottom cushions could have doubled as marble benches! The food was bland as well, but hey, we got here and that's all that really matters.

Frankfurt is the economic capital of Germany and the only real German city with any kind of significant skyline. Frankfurt was almost completely leveled during WWII and much of what stands now are recreations of the original old town. Very centrally located, Frankfurt is the launching point for many trips into the Rhine River region, but doesn't have much to offer itself as a destination. So, rather than bore you with the "'we walked around here and saw this" stories, I'll just tell you about the wedding of Christina und Kim, and some other interesting Frankfurt escapades.

First, Frankfurt is very expensive, metro passes for three days were more than $50 US. But we made sure to get a good use of them!

The Airport is strange as well, it is the busiest Airport in Europe, and they just completed a massive building project of a new Terminal, yet there is nothing in it! Once you go through security there are lots of VERY long halls and not a single store. Nothing. Furthermore, there are way more planes than gates, so you check in to your flight, then take a bus to your plane, which is parked in the middle of nowhere. Seems like a lot of extra work to me, orchestrating all of the buses in addition to the baggage, food, etc. Not to mention it seems dangerous since it literally sounded like a plane was going to land on the roof of the bus as we were driving to the airplane!

The food in Germany is very good. I had a Nutella crepe with banana and the guy just wrapped the crepe around the banana like a hot dog. It was a little messy, as you can see, but anything with Nutella is always delish!

Ryan also introduced me to a Düner, which is the German equivalent to a Gyro stand. Similar flavors with a different sauce, these really hit the spot!
They also have German style thin crust pizza....yeah....I ate the whole thing (minus the two pieces Ryan helped me with).

Parking here is insane. I could never live here for that reason. These are not spaces...in America this would never fly, but I have to admit the Germans make it work! Apparently the parking patrol isn't nearly as heinous here!

This was a very interesting building - with a hole built into it!

All of the water in Germany is Sparkling - at the store you buy a bottle of water and the ones labeled "Classic" are sparkling, you have to look for the "Natural" bottle if you are like me and don't find fizzy water at all refreshing.

Okay, now onto the REALLY fascinating stuff and the reason we are here - Christina's wedding. As I've mentioned in previous blogs (have you been doing your reading???) Ryan participated in an exchange program in high school, and has stayed in touch with the Roth Family: Reinner (dad), Raine (mom), Christina (host-sister), and Tobi (host-brother). When Ryan mentioned that Christina was getting married, I knew we had a trip on our hands! Christina and Kim (her new husband) now live in Munich, Tobi and his girlfriend live in Sweden (we're staying with them in Lund later this week), and Mr. & Mrs. Roth still live in Frankfurt, in the same house the kids grew up in.

Tina and Kim were officially married on Friday in a civil ceremony as is custom in Germany. The wedding was on Saturday at 5pm in a small church, followed by a reception similar to what we do in the US (now let me apologize for the lack of pictures....I didn't take very many and the ones Ryan took are too large to download until we compress them, sorry! check back in a week or so for more wedding photos!).

Before the wedding, we were supposed to meet everyone at the Roth's house at 4pm. But of course we were late! For good reason though. At some point during the day, the house keepers had come by our room and had taken our towels, but they had not touched anything else so we hadn't noticed. Right as we were getting for the wedding they came back, but we sent them away completely oblivious to our current perilous towel situation! Then, Ryan finished his shower and shouted to me that there were no towels, so he got to stand in the shower as I ran around the hotel barefoot chasing after housekeepers in GermEnglish! To make matters worse, the lights in the room are activated by the door key card being put into a slot. I took the key when I ran off, so he got to stand there in the dark as well.

Anyhoo, we made it to the wedding in the nick of time. Of course, the ceremony was completely in German, which I hadn't given any thought to until we were sitting in the pews at the church!

Generally, the ceremony was similar to one in the US. The Pastor gave a sermon, we sang a few hymns, there was a singing performance (one song in English!), we said the Lords Prayer, and they kissed and it was done! What was different was that Kim and Tina walked down the aisle together with the pastor and they had no bridesmaids or groomsmen. I'm not sure if that is typical for Germany or if it's just the way they wanted it.

There was a receiving line outside of the church after the ceremony, then it is tradition for everyone attending the wedding to tie little “veils” to their car’s antenna’s and drive to the reception in cavalcade honking the whole way. Logistically, given the parking (see above) this was just too hard to orchestrate, but everyone did decorate the cars at least! It would have been a cool experience had we been able to pull it off!

The reception was in "The Hills" of Frankfurt and it was really quite lovely. We started with Champagne and everyone visited for over an hour before we were seated for dinner. At our table, we had the bride and groom, Tobi and Carolina, and two other couples, all of whom spoke English. I was so thankful and JEALOUS! I want to speak 12532 languages like everyone else in Europe!

Dinner was an Italian Buffet including appetizers of salmon and quail eggs, bread, and cheese and the main dish included choice of seafood in creme sauce over rice or Italian rigatoni. I ate everything, of course! For dessert we had our choice of chocolate mousse, key lime pie, or tarimisou. And the servers were coming around all night with three different wines, endless glasses, just my style!

During and after dinner we played games and showed videos. One movie was of Kim and Tina spliced together with videos of them growing up. The other was a slide show of silly pictures showing similarities between them at really young ages. It was meant to be! We also played a game where they each removed a their shoes, gave one to the other person, put the shoes on their hands, and stood back to back. Then, they were administered questions like, "Who has a better sense of direction?", "Who is in charge of the remote?", and "Who is the house cleaner?" Then, they had to hold up the shoe correlating to the person. Some of the questions, not to mention their answers, were very entertaining! This is definitely a tradition I'd love to bring to the US. One that doesn't translate, however, is the tapping of glasses with forks to make the newlyweds kiss...we tried to introduce that, and while our table got a kick out of it, the other guests were just confused, and the DJ stopped the music expecting a speech, then glared at us when he never got one!

One thing that really stood out as different from many of the American weddings I've been to was the amount of time people stayed at the reception! Dinner was served at 7pm, the first dance wasn't until about 9:30, and I don't think the first guest left until after midnight! Actually, we left at 1am, and that was BEFORE Tina's 94 year old grandmother. These German's know how to have a great nights!

The whole German wedding experience was exceptional and the Roth's & Boost's (Tina's new last name) did a fantastic job putting it all together.

In other news, I'm glad to report I was NOT the drunken American at this wedding, and I woke up feeling mostly okay the next day. We were invited to brunch at the Roth's, and Raina prepared a lovely meal of white asparagus, ham, fried potatoes, and holindaze sauce. Apparently very traditional German food and also very enjoyable!

This is on the long side, so thanks for hanging in there! Before I go, I want to give a huge shout out to mother nature, who has blessed us with fantabulous weather for our visit (shorts and t-shirt weather every day so far!) and who predicts more great weather to come! And also a huge thanks to our gracious hosts, The Roth's, Tobi and Carolina, and especially Kim and Tina for getting married. And thanks to you for reading, keep your eyes peeled for a Prague post coming up!

13 April 2009

Europa 2009!

Recently I've decided it is my life goal to travel internationally AT LEAST once a year. So far, my track record is: 2000 France & Italy, 2005 Japan, 2006 European Backpacking Tour, 2007/2008 Chile and Argentina, 2008 Toronto.

As you can see, there is nothing listed for 2009.... Yet! Thankfully Ryan knows someone who is going to help me do something about that!

In high school, Ryan did an exchange in Frankfurt and has since kept in touch with the family, and he's even been back to visit. Now, his host sister Christina (great name!) is getting married at the end of April and has invited us to attend! We are beyond excited, especially becuase we are going to tie as much in as we can. Here's the itinerary:

We fly direct from Seattle to Frankfurt on April 23rd and have three days to partake in the joyous wedding festivities. From Frankfurt, we are flying to Prague, where we'll spend three nights in a fabulous apartment which we found for CHEAP. Big shout out to MyLateRooms.com for hooking us up. Seriously, if you want an apartment in Europe that is a must see website! In Prague we plan to take in the sights and do a day trip to the Bone Museum. Creepy!
After our days in Prague, we're headed for one night in Berlin at the eclectic Artotel Berlin.

Hopefully we'll have time to enjoy the Berlin sights as well!

The next afternoon we're off to Copenhagen. We'll be staying in Lund, Sweden, with Christina's brother Tobi and his girlfriend Carolina. Lund is just north of Malmo, which is about an hour drive/train ride from Copenhagen. Lund will be our base and hopefully we'll spend a few days and maybe a night in Copenhagen.

We're both really excited! The timing is actually good too, since the economy is down it's a bit of a buyers market! Woot!

If you have any feedback or must-see suggestions for our trip, please let me know!


21-Run Traditions

On April 5, 2009, my baby twin sisters turned the big 2-1! Legal drinking age - I can hardly believe it! Since I couldn't be there to help them ring it in properly and to pass along my sisterly advice, I scoured the Internet to try and find a how to guide to turning 21. There wasn't one, so I created my own!

Now I know this is technically a "travel blog" so then why post it here? Lets just say I had to travel back in time (ha! see what I did there?) to create this for them! Plus, it's my blog so I'll do what I want! Now, without further ado, here is the guide I created for Monica and Michele!
For My Dearest, Most Beloved Twin Sisters,

On this historic day, the Eve of your 21st Birthday, I am saddened that I am unable to be with you to impart my sisterly advice and see you get absolutely WASTED! Ha!

Since I can’t be there for your birthday, I want to pass along a few words of advice I received before my 21st Birthday. You can listen to me or not, but this will keep you puke free and out of the hangover zone!

I’m sure you aren’t new to drinking, but just in case, here are some pointers to get through the night vomit free:
•Eat a big meal!
------I know you want to look hot and skinny in your birthday outfit, but trust me, a big meal is essential to soaking up all that liquor. Try to have something with some pasta or bread, it will help!
•Drink TONS of water!
------Being dehydrated is the number one reason people get hangovers. Drink lots of water during the day before you go out, and try to have some water in between each drink….if people will let you!
•Don’t Mix and Match!
------Try to pick one “category” of alcohol for the night. For example, citrus drinks (ie Daiquiris and Margaritas) do NOT mix well in your stomach with milk based drinks (ie anything with Bailey’s Irish Crème). Sticking to one, and I suggest citrus, is the safe way to go.
•Remember the Rhymes!
------Beer then Liquor you’ve never been sicker, Liquor then beer you’re in the clear. DO NOT mix these up!
•End the Night with Water!
------If you are lucid enough at the end of the night, drink a few glasses of water before you go to bed. Maybe take an ibuprofen at the same time too.

Now, on to the fun stuff – TRADITIONS! Here are the traditional things you need to do on your 21st Birthday:
•Tell EVERYONE it’s your birthday! Wear a sign around your neck if you want! Bartenders will treat you to drinks on your 21st!
•Never, under ANY circumstance, but your own drink. It’s your birthday dammit!
------If someone buys you a drink, it is your obligation to drink it even if you don’t like it! You must try everything. Keep a glass of Diet Coke nearby as a chaser just in case, and don’t forget that WATER!
•In your purse, take a piece of paper and a pen (on my birthday, I did this on a envelope, so please feel free to use this card envelope). After each drink you have to write down the name of the drink, and sign your name next to it. You’ll be amazed what that paper looks like in the morning.

Here’s a list of my favorite drinks you may or may not have heard of. Please take that $21 enclosed and buy yourself a round on me!
•Lemon Drop Martini
------This is a GREAT way to start the night!
•Blow Job
------You have to do this one! And take it out of each other’s laps!
•Buttery Nipple
------Also a shot, very sweet, tastes like butterscotch.
•Washington Apple
------This can be a shot or a drink, it’s good either way!
•Red Headed Slut
------I think this one tastes a little spicy, if I remember correctly
•Blue Lagoon
------Made with blue Curacao, make sure to be aware it can turn your teeth blue in pictures
•Irish Car Bomb
------Because Guinness is delicious
------This will help perk you up if you are getting tired, because it’s got Red Bull
•Mind Eraser
------Maybe save this one for a day you won’t be drinking so heavily, but it’s a goodie!
•Liquid Cocaine
------Another one to maybe save.
Zambucca Vacuum
------They light this one on FIRE!

Have a VERY HAPPY 21ST BIRTHDAY! I’m really sorry I can’t be there. Take lots of pictures for me! And remember my sisterly advice, it will take you far!

Love you!

Kristina xoxoox