Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Paddy's Day - different but still good craic

Saint Patrick's Day, which is a national holiday and a big deal in Ireland, feels very different in Germany where it is more or less a non event in most places. This year I worked, which felt somewhat strange (normally I take the day off). The majority of Germans don't seem to even know what St. Patrick's Day is or even if they do know, they forget which day it is. In fact in Germany it's just a normal day in most places. I've heard in the States it's common to pinch people who aren't wearing green on St. Patrick's day. Well if I were to do that here, it would have been a very busy day of pinching! It would have been faster to point out the people who were wearing green.

After work I made my way to one of the local Irish pubs, and that felt more like it! There were lots of people, singing songs, drinking, laughing and it was just a great atmosphere! And of course there was lots of craic, which is a special fun atmosphere that only Irish people can produce.

Then last weekend we were also invited to a Paddy's Day themed party hosted by another Irish-German couple like us, which was also good fun. We watched some of the highlights online from the St. Patrick's day celebrations in Ireland. I hear that is was a four-day affair this year with loads of different events organized. And everything green of course!

Several Germans asked me about Saint Patrick, the man himself, and embarrassingly I couldn't say much apart from him being the patron saint of Ireland and that he got rid of all the snakes! And they also asked me about typical food we eat on the day, which was also difficult to answer. It's not an event revolving around food (but rather drink!), it's more about celebrating everything Irish!

Hopefully some year we'll make it back to Ireland for the few days. Flights then are always extra-expensive, of course. In the meantime, all the Irish people abroad can get back to planning our secret mission of world domination or - at the very least - world inebriation!

Did you celebrate St. Patrick's Day where you are?

Monday, March 9, 2015

What's your word? #MicroblogMonday

There was a scene in the well known book and subsequent movie Eat Pray Love where the main character has to think of one word that defines, drives and inspires her. While chatting about it with some friends at the weekend we tried to come up with our own words for ourselves and each other.

One chose Beauty. Not in a superficial sense, but beauty that can come from within and as a creative person she finds it in lots of things. Another friend chose fun as to her that's what life is about, craving enjoyment. The other friend choose drive as she is very motivated and driven in each stage of her life.

Thinking about what my own word could be I initially came up connection or meaning as I tend to want to find deeper meaning in things and connect with people. Family also came to mind as very important. My friends however choose the word, loyalty for me. The reason being that I'm a very loyal friend and I value loyalty in others.

I asked the GerMann what his word might be. He didn't like limiting himself to one and mentioned wife, health and wealth. Talking some more about what he meant exactly I came up with well-being as his word to try to convey a sense of how he values having a good work/life balance, standard of living, being healthy, exercising and having a companion.

What about you? Is there a good word that describes you or your life motivation?

Saturday, February 28, 2015

An Irish Summer in Lanzarote

We spent last week on holidays in Lanzarote, one of the Canary islands. When we were in Mallorca before, we couldn't help noticing how many Germans there were. Well Lanzarote seems to be a top destination for fellow Irish people as we heard familiar accents everywhere we went!

We also lost count of the amount of Irish pubs there are in Puerto del Carmen, the region where we stayed, but we managed to have a drink in several of them - I always try to support other Irish people living abroad! We enjoyed some great live music in one and even took part in the karaoke evening at another.

The Canary islands belong to Spain but because of their location close to Africa it is normally much warmer compared to the rest of Europe. We were rather unlucky with the weather while we were there though, which was reminiscent of an Irish summer - very changeable - one minute sunny and pleasant and the next overcast and rainy. so yeah, I felt quite at home, haha!

Puerto del Carmen has a seven kilometer long promenade beside lovely beaches and there are plenty of great restaurants, pubs, and cafes. The island is also covered with volcanoes and an excursion to the Timanfaya National Park is worth a visit. We opted for a half day trip which included some wine tasting. It probably sounds bad if I admit I was more looking forward to the latter, which ended up being a little disappointing with only one half glass to taste! There was also an option to ride camels up the volcanic mountains, which neither of us particularly wanted to do so we wandered around taking photos at that stage and then went back to the bus when it got too cold.

Visiting Lanzarote in February is still a little risky if you are counting on great weather and a beach holiday. The lowest temperature there during Winter would only be about 14 degrees so it's really quite pleasant all year around. That said the evenings were chilly and there was a very cold wind!

Still though, we had a fun relaxing time. Our next trip planned will be Dublin over the Easter break.

And our karaoke songs of choice in case you are wondering? I attempted "Help" by the Beatles and the GerMann had a go at the Garth Brooks classic "Friends in Low Places". Neither of us can sing particularly well but didn't matter since nobody knows us in Lanzarote!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Wishes for 2015 - wondering what the year might bring

You know it's strange, no one here has asked me about my New Year's resolutions. Maybe it's just not as much of a thing in Germany or maybe everyone has gotten less motivated to make New Year's resolutions that they ultimately end up breaking!

This year instead of making resolutions I decided to think instead of my hopes for the coming year.

Buy a house

We've been on the lookout for the right place for us for probably about a year at this stage. We've been to several viewings and even made an offer on a house we liked and got very close to actually buying but the negotiations fell through in the end. It's difficult. Since Baden-W├╝rttemberg is highly populated and has a strong economy with plenty of jobs, the price of land is expensive.

And of course location is very important. I don't want to end up buying a place that's really far from town and everything else and ending up with a long commute to work and it would affect our quality of life. Maybe we need to adjust our expectations or just keep waiting until we find the house or apartment of our dreams! Anyway the search continues.


I love to travel and see new places so I hope in 2015 we can go on some adventurous holidays, and not just back to Ireland, even though I love those trips too of course! I read once that experiences are what you remember such as a great weekend away with friends, and so it's better to spend your money on things like that as opposed to buying material items like new clothes or gadgets.

Have a baby

Well it's out there. Are you listening, universe/God? My not-so-secret-anymore hope is to get pregnant this year. That was also my wish for last year. It's getting to the stage where we may have to go to the doctor for help (though IVF scares me and I'm hoping it won't come to that!) but planning to give it another six months first. And in the meantime I'm trying to relax more, get healthy, try the alternative options and just be patient and enjoy the time when it's just the two of us!

Blog more

Blogging is a fun and creative outlet and I would like to keep it up and blog often this year. The main 'theme' of my blog is living abroad as an Irish person in Germany, but I also plan to write about my life generally and thoughts on all sorts of topics, just whatever I feel like writing about that day.

Improve my German

It's been awhile since I took a German course and I'm sure I'm regularly making all sorts of grammatical errors when speaking! I would like to try to take another refresher course, maybe even an online one which I could do from home. And I know I should push myself more to read in German.

And finally, make healthier choices.

Haha! Well I had to put it in there. I've been getting quite lazy about going to the gym the last while what with the weather so miserable and days so cold and dark but I hope to start going regularly again. And maybe start jogging again too. And food wise, just cooking more healthy meals from scratch, more vegetables, less red meat. Not always saying yes to cake.

And my resolution?

What about you? What are your hopes for what 2015 might bring? And yes I do realise that it's February already!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Blue Monday survived #MicroblogMonday

So apparently today, the third Monday in January, is known for being the most depressing day of the year for a lot of people. That's why it has therefore been nicknamed, "Blue Monday"! Probably due to some of the following reasons:

  • The weather is usually crap. Here it's been cold, grey and dark.

  • Everyone is still broke after Christmas and there's another week to get through before pay day.

  • January can be a bit dull. There isn't much happening after the Christmas party season and most people are detoxing and off the booze now anyway.

  • Plus if all that isn't bad enough, it's a Monday!

Actually my day wasn't too bad. Not any worse than most Mondays! The GerMann and I have booked a one week sun holiday for mid February so it helps having that to look forward to!

Did you survive Blue Monday?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Acupuncture part two #MicroblogMonday

Despite a rather disastrous less than positive first acupuncture experience, I decided to go back. I figured that it makes sense to try it a few times and give it a proper chance before making my mind up one way or the other and I've since been to two more sessions.

It has gotten somewhat better, maybe because I've gotten used to it now and I find I'm able to relax a little more. That said, I still don't really get what the hype is about to be honest and I often feel like a pin cushion lying there covered in needles!

The last time I went the acupuncturist gave out to me because I haven't been going often enough which she says means it won't be effective. So I've decided for this month I will do it properly and try to go every week. And then I'll probably just quit in February. She also recommends I do Osteopathy, more alternative stuff. Not sure if I will though, it's expensive and even less evidence that it does anything.

I've also decided to cut down on dairy a little just to try that for a few weeks. So I now eat my porridge in the mornings with oat milk, and it's quite nice actually. It tastes weird in tea though so I stick to normal cow's milk for that!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Christmas edition

Christmas this year was wonderful. The GerMann and I flew to Dublin a few days beforehand, and spent ten days there. My brother was also home from Australia and it was lovely having the whole family around. I also managed to meet up with most of my friends at some stage while we were back.

On the day itself we all pitched in to prepare the food which was a very traditional Irish Christmas dinner; turkey, stuffing, roast potatoes and vegetables, gravy, cranberry sauce and all followed by plum pudding, mince pies and custard. Delicious! After eating till we were totally stuffed we played some board games - cluedo and monopoly. The latter was just going on forever so in the end we just decided to count up who had the most money to decide on the winner (my sister's boyfriend).

We left Dublin with suitcases full of presents and returned to the freezing weather here. I found out the hard way that dragging suitcases through the snow is not easy! Luckily all our flights, buses and trains went as scheduled, not like a few years ago when my flight on christmas eve was cancelled due to the snow and I ended up missing Christmas with my family and not arriving back to Dublin until Stephen's day!

I was a little sad saying goodbye at the end of our visit as usual but I know we will fly to Dublin again in only a few months. It has also been quite nice here since we've been back. The snow is very pretty and I only had one easy day of work, since the office was quiet and now two days off. The GerMann picked up a cold in Dublin though and is suffering with a sore throat so we decided to stay in for New Year's Eve and have a nice evening zu zweit (just the two of us). We'll watch the fireworks in our neighbourhood.

There was a LOT of eating in Dublin and plenty of wine, so I think this month I will have to start going back to the gym to reduce some of the Weihnachtsspeck, which literally translate to 'Christmas bacon'. Haha, those Germans certainly have a word for everything!

How was your holiday season?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Book lovin' #MicroblogMonday

The idea of being in a book club always appealed to me and earlier this year I set one up with other English speaking ladies living here. Anyone can make suggestions what to read, then we have a poll and whatever gets the most votes wins. The aim is to meet up about every six weeks to then discuss the latest book over a few too many glasses of wine!

The great thing about being in a book club is that I get to discover other books and authors that I probably wouldn't have come across otherwise. That said, everyone's tastes are very varied and there have been a few books that may have won awards but we just couldn't get into or ones that some people loved and others didn't at all! This leads to some interesting conversations though.

Our most recent book is "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn which I just finished reading. I had heard quite mixed reviews with some people loving it, others hating it. It's about a woman who goes missing under suspicious circumstances and is written alternating from her point of view to that of her husband's.

There are some great twists in Gone Girl which I'm not going to go into as I don't want to spoil it for anyone but I will say I really enjoyed reading it and found it original and full of suspense. I could barely put it down and I'm looking forward to watching the film! It's usually better to read a book before watching the movie adaptation, I find.

Have you read Gone Girl? Are you in a book club? Any good book recommendations?