Monday, September 29, 2014

What to wear to Oktoberfest #MicroblogMonday

Oktoberfest season is nearly here so it's time to dust off those dirndls and lederhosen! Actually you can pretty much wear the gear to most German festivales, even the Spring and Summer ones. And we recently went to an Oktoberfest themed birthday party where the dress code was tracht, meaning traditional German costumes.

In other words Lederhosen with checkered shirts for the men and dirndl for the women. Although in recent years it has gotten a lot more casual and I've even seen girls wearing cute lederhosen shorts or skirts.
Married or attached women are meant to tie the bow of the apron on the right hand side, and single ladies wear it to the left. Guys often wear hats and girls wear their hair in intricate plaits.

The outfits don't come cheap though and a nice dirndl normally sets you back somewhere between 70€ and 200€. Which is a lot considering you might only wear it once a year. They are lovely and flattering though and it's fun to get dressed up and get into the whole Oktoberfest atmosphere. And if you don't wear one you'll be the odd one out!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Dublin in August

In August the GerMann and I went to Dublin for what I always call a flying visit, which is basically when we only go for a few days meaning I don't have much time and end up racing around here there and everywhere trying to meet as many people as possible! It's always great to be home and see everyone but those visits are not exactly relaxing! We did manage to eat in some great places and I took lots of food pictures. And of course we managed to go for afternoon tea and scones. This time we weren't so lucky with the weather though and got caught in the rain more than once.

I also attended a ten year anniversary meetup with my university friends which was fun! Can't believe it's been ten years already since I completed my degree. Everyone looks the same, just better dressed and now with impressive careers - go us, haha! Some of us are married, a few also have kids and several from the course are living abroad like me. It was great catching up!

Initially after college we all did try to get together often but gradually people went their seperate ways and it had been several years since the last meetup. We all said we would try to not let it go so long next time and we'll plan to get togther again in Ireland over Christmas. I'm the only one from our course who ended up marrying someone I met during the Erasmus year (two semersters spent in a university aborad). I wonder what path my life would have gone down if I hadn't done that particular degree which included the year spent on Erasmus in Tübingen.

One of my best friends, who was also my bridesmaid, recently had a baby boy so we also got to visit her which was lovely. It seems like loads of my friends are having babies these days, my facebook news feed is full of it! Hopefully it's also in the cards for us. Our next planned Dublin trip is not until December but for ten days which should be less rushed. There might also be some time to take some trips outside of Dublin and show the GerMann more of the lovely island I call home. This year the plan is to spend Christmas in Ireland with my family and then New Year's in Germany, sharing our time between both sides of the family.

Monday, September 22, 2014

So I joined a gym #MicroblogMonday

Wouldn't it be great if you could just skip all the hard work and get straight to the results part, like in a cool movie montage? A few weeks ago the GerMann and I joined our local gym. Joining was the easy part! I'm aiming to work out twice a week and still go for occasional jogs.

It's going well so far though it probably hasn't helped that I haven't changed my diet much and still indulge my sweet tooth - who can resist those lovely German cakes? It also always seems to be somebody's birthday in work which means cake in the office every day!

So far it's going well and I'm enjoying the health kick and feeling good. What do you do to keep fit?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Mallorca #MicroblogMonday

Where was I this time last week? Drinking cocktails after a day on the beach probably! The GerMann and I booked a last minute one week trip to Mallorca and it was amazing - a sunny 30 degrees by day and still warm in the evenings, delicious seafood with sangria and long sandy beaches with turquoise water.

We purposely avoided the crazy party area of Mallorca which gives the place a bad reputation. The rest of the island has so many beautiful spots. It seems to be especially loved by German and British pensioners - I'd put the average age of our resort at about 60! The last time we were in Mallorca, this time two years ago, the GerMann proposed, so it was also nice to go back as a now married couple!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Some Irish blog recommendations

Through the Irish blogging awards this year I have been introduced to lots of new blogs and I have been really enjoying reading all the entries in the best blog category. They cover a wide range of subjects from the more serious themes such as post natal depression and living with MS, to the more funny and light subjects such as thoughts on pregnancy and dating.

There are lots of really good ones and it's hard for me to pick just one to vote for, but the following are the ones that stuck out for me in particular, for one reason or another and are worth reading if you have a few spare hours on your hands!

There are a lot of posts from Irish Mum bloggers;

Some of the more serious topics;
Irish relevant subjects;
  • The job bridge scheme, what's wrong with it and how it can be improved: Under the Job Bridge
  • Thoughts on being an Irish emigrant these days compared on what it used to be like: The Reluctant Emigrant
  • A satirical piece on the Irish Catholic church's treatment of unmarried mothers and their children: Waterford Whispers News

On various other topics;
There's still time to Vote for your favourite blog post.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Another year here

I've recently had my four year anniversary of living in Germany. In the Summer of 2010 I packed my suitcase and flew over not knowing whether I would later regret the decision and also not sure how long I would end up staying. Looking back I would say that the first year was definitely the hardest. Not initially - the first few months I was in the "honeymoon" phase in my relationship with Germany - but once I removed my rose-tinted spectacles and took a hard look at the place, I did have a lot of low moments and at times strongly considered moving back. I've since learned this is all part of culture shock and a totally normal part to adjusting to life in a foreign country.

But I stayed and the homesickness eventually passed and things got much much better! I gradually built up a network of friends - mainly other expats - I found a new job where I didn't have a long commute, my German level improved to where I was able to get by and handle more situations, and I felt settled and even at home. Four years on, I'm not sure where the time has gone, but I'm happy living here!

Of course there are still highs and lows, things I like about living abroad and things I don't. Let's start with the positives. What I love most is meeting new and interesting people and making friends that I would probably never have met had I stayed living in Ireland. There's also a great expat community here supporting and helping each other and it's nice to be a part of that.

I also get to enjoy the benefits of living in Germany such as the lovely long Summers, lots of vacation days (it's common to have as many as 30 days off a year), great health care, good transport and it's central European location to name a few. Yesterday afternoon we cycled to a pretty nearby lake for a swim and today we hung out in one of the many beer gardens enjoying the sun.

I've also gotten more opportunities to travel which I love. It's a lot easier to go and visit other European cities at the weekend as you just need to pop on a train!

Another plus is that living abroad has gotten me out of my comfort zone and I've grown from the challenges. It feels good that I was brave enough to leave Ireland and create a life for myself in a foreign country and to work entirely through German! I've had to put myself into difficult situations such as doing job interviews and presentations auf Deutsch and I think that deserves a pat on the back!

What is also nice is I now get to experience Ireland as a tourist. Because I'm not working there any more whenever I go back I have the time to go on trips, eat out and enjoy myself... It's like a fun holiday. Since I often travel over with the GerMann I'm also more inclined to take trips to show him the beautiful country I grew up in.

So what are the things that make me homesick? The hardest thing is missing the people back home. If my family and friends were to all emigrate over here, it would be perfect! I do wish I could see everyone more often. That said, I do try to make it back about three or even four times a year which is pretty good going! I know it's a lot harder for my American friends to get back home as often.

I also miss Ireland itself - the friendliness, which I notice even more after living in Germany, the beautiful scenery, feeling like I belong, comfort foods and just the craic and the banter! Maybe I'm biased but I think there's just something about the Irish people - their sense of humour and positivity. Like they often expect the worst outcome - such as rain, but then when it doesn't happen they are delighted.

The next difficult thing is definitely the language - it can be frustrating sometimes not knowing the right words to adequately get your point across and I know that even though I've been here four years I still speak German with an Irish accent! So sometimes I will be ordering something in a restaurant or cafe and the waiter will answer me in English, which I find a bit disheartening (isn't my German good enough?!) but I have learnt that Germans just love to practice their English! Also I find chatting with small groups of Germans no problem but if I'm in a big group and it's a noisy environment such as a pub with loud music, it can be hard at times to keep up with the conversations! Still the longer I live here and the better my German gets the less the language issue bothers me.

Just being a foreigner itself can sometimes be hard. No matter how long I live here I will probably never really completely assimilate and feel like I totally belong. I don't mind that too much though. Germany is quite international with lots of different nationalities and people are normally excited to hear I'm from Ireland as they don't meet that many Irish people here. That's something I often wonder about actually, why don't more Irish people consider Germany as a good emigration destination?

Once you settle in the foreign country, a lot of the time it's just day to day living. It's not all super glamorous even though it might seem that way when you look at the facebook pages of people who are living abroad! People don’t tell you about the hard days.

I like my life here now and I'm happy, though the thought of staying forever scares me a little! For some reason the idea of me getting old and at some point having lived here longer than I've lived in Ireland seems so strange to me. What's difficult about being friends with other ex-pats is most of them move on at some point - normally back to their home countries and I hate having to say goodbye. It isn't definite that our future will always be in Germany, maybe at some point we might move to Ireland or somewhere else, but at the moment it just makes the most sense for us.

I also have another big anniversary coming up soon by the way, our one year wedding anniversary, which I also plan to write a little about!

Monday, July 28, 2014


We decided that this Summer we would go on a family holiday - sort of a mini reunion since we are spread out around the world (Germany, Australia and Ireland). It took some planning to settle on somewhere but we felt Greece would have something for everyone - beach, culture, activities. And we were right.

After my recent stint in hospital I really needed a holiday! Unfortunately the GerMann and I had to miss the original flight and travel over a few days later, but we made it there in the end and had a lovely time. It was also really great to see my family again.

There were no direct flights from any airports near us to Kalamata, so we had get the train to Düsseldorf airport. There had been really bad storms there the previous day and most of the trains were cancelled so we had a very stressful day trying to make it to the airport in time for our flight! But we eventually made it to the resort. We stayed in a lovely hotel beside the beach which also offered lots of activities - sailing, windsurfing, tennis, cycling, gym and fitness classes. I spent most of my time relaxing by the pool though and catching up on my reading - pure bliss!

We ate very well on the holiday! I loved the greek salad in particular, but some other Greek dishes I tried and enjoyed were Moussaka (quite similar to shepherd's pie, made with lamb mince and potatoes) and Pastitsio (reminded me of lasagne but without the tomato sauce). What seemed to happen to us a lot though was we would give our order to the waiter only to be told that they only had a few menu dishes available that day. No idea why they couldn't have told us that before we had spent several minutes perusing the menu and deciding what to order?!

We rented a car one day and went to Ancient Messene to see the ruins. It was definitely worth the trip, even though there wasn't much shade from the hot Greek midday sun! Sometimes I think it's a shame that they don't reconstruct more of the ancient ruins so you don't have to always use your imagination to picture how it used to look back in the day.

The people in Greece were friendly and the beaches were lovely. In the evenings we would get a bus or a taxi to some of the nearby towns and explore. A lot of places did seem quite run down and you could tell the recession has hit Greece hard. All in all, it was a great trip and I wouldn't hesitate to go back to again someday - maybe to the islands next time.

Have you been to Greece? Apparently it can also be a fun honeymoon destination.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Blog Awards Ireland

blog awards ireland

I'm delighted to have made it onto the longlist for the diaspora category (Irish bloggers living abroad) in this year's Irish blog awards. Blogging is a very time-consuming but thoroughly enjoyable hobby! In fact I often get ideas for new topics and start writing them and have tons of partially written drafts but don't get around to actually finishing, editing and publishing them. But I am trying to make the effort to blog more often and give an insight into my expat life.

I also love reading and following other people's blogs (there are so many great ones out there!) in all sorts of various categories (travel, interior design, style, beauty, parent, cooking, technology and just personal everyday life ones). Feedly and bloglovin are both great ways of keeping up with blogs you like. You just find one you like the look of and add it to your account and then any new posts will show up in your news feed.