Thursday, March 5, 2009

Peter Pan, why is Frankfurt so sleazy?

All,

I have shamed myself into writing a new blog post. I didn't realize it had been two months. It's been so long you've probably forgotten I even have a blog... I know I did.

There's been a lot going on, but I'm going to stick to one story at a time.

Enter Peter Pan.

Okay, so as most of you know Valentine's Day was about three weeks ago. Being the much-too-clever for my own good kind of girlfriend, I decided to give Nate something we could BOTH enjoy...tickets to Peter Pan, the British musical.

Now some of you may be thinking something along the lines of LAME, but we like going to see musicals so you can uh...stuff it.

Anyway, the musical was showing at an English theater in Frankfurt so I booked tickets to the show and a hotel for the night. The only time we hang out in Frankfurt is when we're going to or from the airport so I thought this would be a good opportunity to see the city. Did I mention I'm much too clever for my own good?

So fast forward to the end of February and the day of the show. Our goal was to get up early and spend the day walking around Frankfurt, but we still haven't mastered the getting up early part. There's something about getting up before 10 a.m. on a weekend that just doesn't settle right...

We finally leave around noonish and make our way to Frankfurt. Check in is at 2 p.m. so this really works out perfectly. Nate volunteers to drive, which is probably a wise decision. I know my driving makes him nervous - he probably wouldn't admit this, but since he refers to my car as a "coffin on wheels" it's probably a safe bet that me behind the wheel gives him some anxiety.

Anyway, he gets left to the task of navigating a new city - lucky me - but he manages to get us to the hotel using the GPS. Unfortunately, there isn't any parking in front of the hotel so we miss the building and do a loop around the city.

This is loop one.

We make our way back and there's an open spot in front of the hotel. We check in and haul our bags up to the room. The room is nice, but definitely more modern than what we're used to. There was mood lighting so you could change the colors to orange or blue and the shower was half the length of the room with glass walls. Interesting...

After dumping our stuff, we head back downstairs to find the parking garage. The front desk clerk tells us to take the first left and we'll come to two garage doors. We should put the key in the left door and it will open.

Hmmm...

We follow the directions to the tee. We make the first left, come up to the doors and Nate tries to put the key in. Key word being "tries". The key doesn't fit.

Thinking we had the wrong garage we get back in the car and make the next left. This leads to another loop around the city.

This is loop number two.

We call the hotel and ask for better directions. They tell us the exact same thing they told us before.
They think we are stupid.

We come back to the hotel, make a left and go back to the original garage doors. By this time, Nate is not a happy camper. He's been driving all over the city in lousy traffic and has deemed my planning skills "poor". He gives me the key so I can try the garage door.

I put the key in the slot and the door opens.

Yes, the exact same door we tried earlier now works. Must be a woman's touch...

Fortunately for me, my boyfriend has a sense of humor.

Fortunately for him, we could walk everywhere and wouldn't need to stay sober to drive. We head to the bar.

The next few events are well...uneventful. We visit an Irish pub and have a beer and watch a rugby game. The Scots were playing. Funny, they didn't look like any of my romance novel covers.

Then we headed down the main shopping area and grabbed sushi for dinner. It's also probably worth noting that we were a crosswalk away from the red light district. Which essentially means, we were rubbing elbows with the sleazier part of town.

Peep shows, sex shops, men in trench coats, potential pimps and a bonafide cat fight in the middle of the sidewalk.

Never let anyone tell you Frankfurt is anything but class.

After sidestepping the drug dealers we made our way to the theater. It's been ages since I've seen any version of Peter Pan so I was super-stoked for the show. We were a few minutes early so we grabbed a few drinks at the theater bar.

This is when things got a little weird.

Red flag number one - there was a bake sale on one side of the bar. Not only were they selling pretzels and cookies, they were also selling tinkerbell wings. Hmm...Now this could be explained because we thought a lot of kids would show up for the show...right?

Red flag number two - The theater was bursting at the seams with kids. Not just one or two, but LOTS. Hmmm...well, Peter Pan is a kid's story...right?

Red flag number three - The back of the program has a photo of all the castmembers...and they're all under the age of 17.. Uh oh.

As it turns out, in my excitement to purchase tickets I didn't realize the show was being done by a kids drama school, not a British touring group.

Oops...

Lucky for me, my boyfriend is tough. Despite the fact that he sat next to two little girls the entire time and despite the fact they kept touching his leg and spilling cheerios in his lap, he still had a good time. Despite the fact that the acting left something to be desired and the adults next to us gave us dirty looks when we didn't stand up and chant "we believe in fairies", he still kept a smile on his face.

No, really - I jest, but we had an amazing time. I mean come on - your girlfriend buys you tickets to a musical thinking it will be a romantic evening out on the town and it turns out the musical is actually a student play and you're surrounded by kids for two hours with your tipsy girlfriend who chugged two huge beers at the bar when she realized she didn't plan very well -- you can't plan memories this great!

Anyway, we both uh.. took advantage of the bar and really enjoyed ourselves.

Afterward, we went back to the hotel and passed out. We woke up in the middle of the night, but couldn't figure out how to turn the lights out. It gives the "how many people does it take to screw in a light bulb" joke a whole new meaning.

The next morning we had bagel sandwiches and tea close to the stripping zone. Talk about a wake up call :)

And since nothing in Germany is open on Sunday (seriously, when do these people get anything done?), we went back to Heidelberg and spent the afternoon walking down the hauptstrasse and up by the river.

Final outcome? Frankfurt: 0, Jen's planning skills: 0.5, Musical: 6, Overall memory? 10 :)

Cheers!
Jen

Saturday, December 20, 2008

On my way to Vegas

All,

Since I'm suffering from a case of jetlag, I thought I would take a few minutes to update my blog. What better way to fill the void than to tell you about my flight to Vegas.

My vacation really started Wednesday night. I figure once you leave work for the last time, you start your vacation. Carlten was also flying out Thursday morning so we decided to drive to the airport together. They picked me up around 7 and made our way back to their house. We were up until about 11 playing Super Mario Kart on Wii -- tell me that's not the beginning of a vacation!

The next morning we left about 630 for the airport in Frankfurt. Their flight left at 940 and mine was scheduled to leave at 1140. Yeah, I would have some time to kill, but at least I wouldn't have to worry about how I was going to get to the airport. I was actually so early they wouldn't even let me check in at the counter yet.

After Carlten checked in, we went upstairs for breakfast - McDonald's of course -- hey, the golden arches are universal.

Shortly after, they went through security and I went back to the counter. They still weren't checking in my flight, but I found a "bag drop" for people who had checked in online (yay!) and they were more than happy to take care of me.

My next stop was passport control. They asked me several questions because I was traveling on my tourist passport, but had entered the country on an official passport. Eventually, they let me through and I spent the next half an hour entertaining myself with duty free shopping.

After I got tired of shopping, I went through security and settled in for a long wait. Fortunately, I had a book with me. And of course, I talked to Nate for awhile. He was getting ready for his trip to Malta.

Eventually, I get on the plane and start the 10 hour trip to Ohio. The flight wasn't so bad. I was about halfway back on the plane, but in the aisle seat. They showed several movies, though none of them were very good. I mean, could we get a best picture winner or something?

I couldn't sleep so I spent most of the time reading....and ignoring the girl next to me. She was really sick and was throwing up in those airplane bags half the trip. She didn't want to get up so she just hurled in the chair next to me. I had to put in my earplugs and discreetly put my fingers under my nose. I'm a sympathetic puker - everyone's lucky I didn't start hurling in the aisle.

Naturally, our plane is running late and I only have 50 minutes to get through customs and on my connecting flight to Vegas. Most of the people on my flight were in the same boat -- I mean c'mon, who really wants to go to Ohio?

So I spend 20 minutes or so waiting to get through the passport control folks -- naturally, I picked the wrong line. It took FOREVER to get through everything. Then I had to pick up my bag (which wasn't out yet) and take it to the baggage handlers so they could transfer it to my next flight. Then I had to wait in line to go through security again.

Tell me why we have to go through security again? I went straight from the airplane, to passport control, to baggage and straight back to security. Where the hell would I have gotten a knife or gun?

Anyway, I start to get frustrated because I'm running out of time. Then I really get frustrated when people start ducking under the ropes and cutting people in line. I almost made a scene, but decided not to piss off karma. Instead, I told the TSA guy (who must've been all of 18) what was going on and told him to handle it.

So I'm standing there in my socks waiting for my bag to come out of the security machine and then I hear the words I was dreading come over the pa system.

"Final call for flight 37 to Las Vegas at gate B11"

Oh shit.

Where am I? Am I even close to B11?

Fortunately, I see a sign for my gate. I pick up my stuff and I make a break for it. I even ran up the escalator.

Keep in mind I'm in my socks.

I almost fell because the floor was so slick. But damn, I was determined to make my flight!

I made it to the gate just in time and was one of the last people to board. Some of the other people from my original flight got lucky and ran up behind me.

This flight was uneventful. I tried to sleep since I was in a window seat and I probably dozed off and on for about an hour. To kill the other three hours, I watched E! Specifically, Snoop Dogg's reality tv show and True Hollywood Story Clay Aiken.

Hey, all I have at home is German cable. It was fine by me.

A gazillion hours later, I safely arrive in Vegas and for good measure, so does my bag!

My dad picked me up at the airport and I was greeted with homemade chicken and dumplings. Sigh - it's good to be home.

For the record, by the time I got home it was 3 a.m. in Germany, which means I was traveling for almost 24 hours. I was in desperate need of a shower!

Since then, I've been hanging out at home in my pajamas. Although, I did go to DSW yesterday and buy new shoes. I mean, a real shoe store! It's all so overwhelming!

Today, I'm tackling the mall. I can barely wait.

Cheers,
Jen

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanksgiving in Germany

So I was thinking about it and I just spent my very first Thanksgiving somewhere other than the US. Spending the holiday away from my family wasn’t a big deal because it’s rare I’m with my parents on Thanksgiving anyway, but I’ve never been in another country. And you know what?

It wasn’t a big deal.

It’s just like another day. Sure, all of the Americans talk about Thanksgiving, but I live downtown and don’t have AFN on my TV. My exposure to the holiday was limited. Although, we did have a traditional Thanksgiving lunch at the dining facility the Wednesday before the holiday.

Since we had a four-day weekend, Nate and I went to Garmisch for some down time. No agendas, no itineraries, no work – it was bliss :)

We drove down Wednesday night and after a brief glitch in our plans (tell me why they would shut down an entire highway and not put up detour signs??) we arrived in Garmisch. We stayed at Edelweiss, which is a DoD resort, so there were military folks everywhere. The resort was hosting a big Thanksgiving feast the next day so I think a lot of folks drove in for the festivities.

Anyway, we were pretty tired so we called it an early night. The next day we went to Neuschwanstein Castle, which is one of King Ludwig’s four castles. It sits on top of a huge hill and it looks like the Disney World castle, not like a traditional medieval castle with a moat. In fact, they said Walt Disney designed his castle based on this one.

During the tour, we learned that the castle was never completed. Once the king died, construction ceased. It was actually only about a third of the way finished and we were only allowed to see completed rooms. The rooms we saw were amazing. The attention to detail and the sheer glitz of the rooms was incredible. I mean, we may paint our living room wall blue, but they would paint it blue and add a mural and thousands of hand drawn snowflakes. It was borderline ridiculous.

But hey, nobody wants to pay to see plain blue walls.

Besides, the whole thing is charming. Not to mention the views from atop the mountain. You can see for miles. You may be wondering how we got up to the castle (or maybe you don’t care – pssh) and t here are a couple of options. You can take a bus, you can walk (it’s approx 40 mins uphill) or you can take a horse and carriage.

There wasn’t a bus available at the time and it was way too cold to walk so we opted for the horse and carriage. I know you’re all thinking how sappy this sounds, but you ride with a bunch of people so it wasn’t just the two of us canoodling in the back or anything.

After the castle we did some shopping in town. My new kick is tea shops. I like being able to smell all of the different blends and pick my own – kind of like coffee I guess. Anyway, we spent a substantial amount of time in one of the tea shops and walked out with a new orange tea. I’m ready to try it, but have decided to wait for Nate. I know, I’m so polite :)

Although it was Thanksgiving, we passed on the feast at the resort and went to a quaint German restaurant. Thanksgiving really isn’t about the food anyway – it’s about who you’re with –

The next day was “my day”. This meant sleeping in and lots of shopping. We started around lunch time and I had to stop at the PX. Nate was nice enough to point out that it was Black Friday and I wasn’t at home. Boo.

I did find some North Face ski pants at the PX though. I know, I know – Jen on a pair of skis? What’s the world coming to? But I am determined to learn! Anyway, I bought some ski stuff and we ran in Carlten, who also happened to be doing the exact same thing. We’ll have to plan a ski trip for next year.

Afterward, we went downtown and did some shopping. Then Nate remembered he saw an ice skating rink on the map and we went in search of the arena. Actually, we more or less stumbled onto it. This led to about an hour or so of ice skating inside. I fully explained that I don’t ice skate. I can barely walk (which I proved repeatedly as I tripped over cobblestones and stepped on him). But he was convinced I would be fine.

To be fair, the ice was really choppy. It felt like the zamboni hadn’t smoothed the ice in hours and it was easy to get caught in someone else’s grooves. But believe it or not, I didn’t fall. There were a couple of scares, but the Lord looks after fools and he made sure I stayed upright. It was actually a lot more fun than I thought it would be. I think we may go ice skating at the Christmas market this weekend. Maybe these folks will believe in zambonies.

On Saturday, we went to the highest peak in Germany, the Zugspitze, which is part of the Alps. We rode a cable car to the top, which wasn’t too bad…most of the time…Every once in awhile the car would hit an area of the cable that would make your stomach drop, just like being on a roller coaster. Needless to say, I didn’t look down.

And of course, my mind works in weird ways. For example, when we got to the top, the guy who runs the car had to open the window and do something to make sure the car was secure. Tell me why my first thought was– oh hell, what if this guy has a death wish? Maybe he wants to commit suicide and he’s taking us down with him? Why did we pick this doomed car to get on? Fate is a cruel beast… -- Okay, by this time, we’re all safely getting off the car, but it makes you wonder.

Is my mind twisted because of the books I read? Or is it society? With all the bombings and terrorist attacks and high school shootings you can just never be sure what someone’s true intentions are, you know? I blame the media. HAHAHAHAHA – that was for my public affairs family.

Anyway, we make it to solid ground and I venture a peek down the route we just came up. After a brief wave of nausea I decide it’s a good idea to quit torturing myself. Especially since we have to take another cable car down to the next level where the runs are.

It’s really crowded because the season just started. In fact, half of the mountain wasn’t open yet because there wasn’t enough snow. We’re just there for sight-seeing this time so we walked around a bit and stopped for hot chocolate – you know, freeze in the snow... We only spent a couple of hours up there, but it was gorgeous. It increased my resolve to learn how to ski.

On the way back down we took the train, which actually runs through the mountain. So naturally, my thoughts are something like – I wonder what’s going to happen if the mountain caves in? Would it be quick and painless or would we suffocate? I know they’re talking about emergency exits, but let’s get real, could we get to them? – Yeah, it was a long ride down the mountain.

At which point, Nate decides to share that he thinks the mountain would be an easy terrorist target.

Thank the Lord he didn’t mention that until we were off the mountain.

I swear.

Since it’s mid-afternoon we decide to head back to his place in Sulzbach because it’s going to take a few hours to get home and we really didn’t want to drive in the dark. We got back safely and just relaxed. Sometimes it’s just nice to lounge and check email and watch movies.

The next day we met up with Archegan at the big Christmas market in Nurnberg. It was ridiculously crowded and I was glad we only stayed a couple of hours. Although my Belgian waffle in the shape of a heart was well worth the trip.

From there our group had to split up. Megan and I were driving back to Heidelberg, Archie was going to pick up their new puppy and Nate was headed home.

But first, we had to find our car.

And I have a poor sense of direction.

We decide to leave the gang in one area and walk to our car so I can get my bags. Since Nate was listening to me, we went the wrong way and had to backtrack. I don’t think he’ll make that mistake again.

Once we were headed in the right direction (I still thought it was wrong – pssh) we started running into a bad part of town. We were where all of the whore houses are located. Say what?!

All along our left-hand side there were windows facing the street. In each window there was a woman on a stool (usually reading a magazine out of boredom) waiting for some guy to purchase her services. It was like a train wreck. I couldn’t help but look. Nate kept telling me to quit making eye contact, but I couldn’t help myself!

I mean, some of these women must’ve been 60 years old. Anyway, eventually I was able to tear my eyes away. Mainly because it was sad. I can’t imagine living a lifestyle like that. Sad.

Anyway, we make it to the car eventually and Megan and I head back to Heidelberg. Overall, it was a fantastic weekend.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Cheers,
Jen

PS – Okay so ending a Thanksgiving blog by talking about whore houses isn’t exactly in the holiday spirit, but hey – whores are people too!

The wait continues

Still waiting for TKS more than a month later…

So I’m sitting in my semi-frigid apartment waiting yet again for those damn TKS bastards to show up. This time, they’re coming to install an outlet so that I can have a phone and Internet. I have been living without net access at home for about two months now and it is not pleasant. Not to mention my wireless card keeps teasing me by saying that I’m connected. Pssh.

Things are still chaotic here in H-berg. I was out of the office most of last month doing TDY stuff and Joint Commission and whatnot. Not to mention all of the holidays! I swear I only worked about 10 days last month. Needless to say, I have huge pile of work that is in dire need of attention. So what better time to take half a morning to wait for TKS?

Sigh.

To be fair, I have been doing work from home for the past hour or so.

Other news – my parents are flying in Thursday morning. It’ll be nice to see them and I know they need a vacation. I have to work, but since they lived here before I think they’ll be able to fend for themselves.

My military ball is also this weekend. It brings me back to days of sorority formals. Mainly because I’ve waited until the last minute to do everything. I dropped my dress off yesterday for alterations and she promised it would be done by Friday. Fingers crossed. I bought some jewelry last night on the way home and now I have to figure out what I’m going to do with my hair. I haven’t gone to any of the stylists here and now is not a good time to start experimenting. There are a lot of balls in the air right now – I hope I don’t drop any of them.

Where the hell is TKS?

Cheers,
Jen

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Working out, bad hair and the fall fest

Blogging is for addictive personalities

So while I originally kept up my blog on a daily basis I have slowly succumbed to the easy way out – i.e. I’d rather read a good book and drink some hot chocolate than update my blog.

Admittedly, this is partly because I have fallen off the workout makeover wagon. I did really well for about 7 days and then, well, then I just got busy. And tired of working out.

In all honesty, the strength building circuits aren’t bad because I can do them at home. I always fall flat when it comes to cardio. There’s no way I can get up at 5 a.m. to go to the gym. I can hardly wake up on time as it is.

Case in point – last Wednesday I had to be at work early for morning report. My alarm went off at 5:30 and I hit snooze. Correction, I hit what I thought was snooze. Instead, I accidentally hit the off button. So I roll back over and eventually wake up. What time was it you ask?

6:45 a.m.

I don’t think I’ve ever made it out of the house in less than 30 minutes, but I did that morning.

Granted, superficial sacrifices were made in the process. Instead of painstakingly drying my hair sections at a time I ran the dryer though it a couple of times and hit the road. It semi-dried because I had the car window down, but the result wasn’t exactly the windblown look I’d hoped for.

The best part?

I told all of the admins about my morning issues and had them laughing til they cried. At which point, they’d always point out that I looked fine, no different than normal.

Fantastic.

So I always look unkempt? Not exactly the uber professional look I was going for…

But back to what I was originally saying – obviously a morning work out is not going to work for me. I always bring my gym clothes in hopes of going after work, but sometimes I’m there so late it’s just not worth it. I just want to go home.

For example, on Tuesday I had to drive to Stuttgart to meet with one of the commanders. It’s about an hour and a half drive, but the traffic is horrendous. Seriously, between the construction and the crazies on the Autobahn I probably cheated death about 5 times on my way there and back.

Traffic was so bad that by the time I got back to the office it was about 7 p.m. And I spent another 30 minutes doing work. Like I’m going to the gym after that!

However, I will say I have been good about going to my Pilates class! I’ve now gone three consecutive weeks in a row. My teacher said I’ve shown vast improvement, but I figure it’s easy to show improvement when you’re the most remedial kid in the class. There’s nowhere to go but up.

My classmates are trying to get another Pilates class going on Mondays – Pshh.

Pass.

So to continue with random babbling – there was a fall fest in Heidelberg yesterday. It’s great because I can walk down the stairs of my apartment, open the door and step out into a huge party.

Granted, the marching band at 11 a.m. was a little much, but it’s all about give and take when you live downtown.

I met up with Danelli and Sobryce, but it took awhile to reach them. I kid you not, there was one part of the street that was at a complete and utter standstill. I’ve never thought of myself as claustrophobic, but I was ready to have an anxiety attack.

Plus, Germans are pushy! This old man kept pushing the small of my back. I had to turn around and give him the “don’t f*cking touch me again” look. He laid off, but the crowd starting pushing and the next thing I knew his beer belly was pushing me forward. I felt disgusting. I felt violated. I was ready to go back upstairs. And most importantly, I wondered why I didn't know more German swear words.


Twenty minutes later I made it out of the cluster and literally ran into Dan. Well, technically he ran into me, but it didn’t matter. I was so relieved to see four people I recognized. We went back toward the stage and met up with Carlten and eventually even Sled showed up.

Um yes, that’s right – four couples and Jen.

Needless to say, after a couple of Newcastles everything was fine.

Things just aren’t festive if you aren’t drinking a beer and eating a brat (mine was a ½ meter long!).

I also ran into a few people I work with, which was nice. It’s like wow, I actually ran into someone I know in the middle of Germany – yay!

Anyway, it ended up being really cold so we called the evening pretty early around 8ish. I was tired anyway because I had deep cleaned the apartment earlier. I think it’s now safe to call my landlord so he can remove the salmon-colored couches.

I couldn’t call him with the apartment looking a wreck. I wouldn’t want him to worry.

Okay this post was really random. I need to post more often.

I’ll try harder in the future.

Cheers!
Jen

Friday, September 12, 2008

Day five: My legs are starting to feel normal again..

Despite being exhausted, I did stupid circuit A.

I’m working tomorrow morning (yes, it IS Saturday) so I’ve got to get some shut eye.

Don’t worry, I’m only working in the morning and then it’s off to the big wine fest with the gang. It’s supposed to be the Oktoberfest for wine. HOORAY!

Cheers,
Jen

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Day four: So apparently the rest of the world doesn’t stop just because I’ve decided to get in shape

Today was a long day. Period.

The garrison hosted a Freedom Run/Walk today in remembrance of 9/11 so I had to be at work by 5:30 (because I didn’t have the foresight to grab the camera the night before) and to another post by 6 for the beginning of the event. I rolled in right before they started the run.

I snapped a few photos and walked the 5k with some of the people from our center. An hour later -- okay, to be fair we could’ve walked faster, but there were actually a lot more people walking than I thought there would be and the road was cluttered - we finish up the walk/run and I head back to my office to get ready for work.

Let me rephrase that.

I head back to my office to get my gym bag, which I dropped off at 5:30, so I could take it back to my apartment downtown because that’s right – I forgot my pants.

Much as I would’ve liked to have worn sweats all day, I doubt it would’ve gone over well with the command. Especially since I was out and about for most of the day.

I eventually get back to work at 9 and it’s just one thing after another from that point on.

If I wasn’t hunting down bulletin board keys, I was giving out ask me buttons (our campaign for September – long story). If I wasn’t updating the commander’s blog, I was rushing to have posters made. If I wasn’t editing articles, I was having changes made to websites. If I wasn’t doing a news release, I was answering a dozen new emails.

It was a long day.

I rolled out of work after 7 p.m.

I ate all THREE meals in my office today.

There’s something wrong with that picture.

Anyway, I made it home by 8 p.m. and forced myself to do circuits B and C.

Between the 5k walk, the two circuits and the 18,000 steps I registered today, I think I can let it slide that I just ate two cookies….and a number of mint musketeers throughout the day….

Tomorrow is Friday – YAY!

I have another early day because I’m taking two of our docs to a morning radio show. Fingers crossed it goes well.

Cheers,
Jen