A fairly quiet Halloween

I had been talking with some of my English students about meeting up for Halloween, trying to organise a reunion and have a little fun. They were fine with meeting, but nobody was particularly interested in more than that. I sent photos of costumes, face paint and all those kinds of things. Not even a nibble.

Anyway, Halloween approached and I was trying to book a table for us all at Miss Peppers – one of the few places that mentioned Halloween on their website*. I may have mentioned it before, but if not, every time I call, something different happens and I don’t quite get what I want. I’ll admit my German isn’t great, my pronunciation is sub-par, for some reason this gets me a different result every time I call. One time we were booked under a different name (pronunciation), one time we were booked with an incorrect number of places (probably also pronunciation). This time, nobody would answer my calls. 3 days, 2-3 times per day, no-one answered. After the first day, I checked the number (got it from the website, but still thought it had to be me). On the 3rd day after my attempt to call, I gave up and asked Ingrid. She booked it straight away… :/

3 of my students, their partners and my wife all talked English and some German for the night. Some of us ate Halloween themed food, featuring pumpkins and ‘blood’ looking things (ketchup being an obvious match for the role). It was a pleasant little get together.

*As an aside, I find it completely strange that places/businesses in Germany, or at least in North Germany, seem to not bother with anything. They rarely advertise. They rarely organise events to encourage customers. They certainly don’t do publicity, many business have their pamphlets inside their door, if they have pamphlets. Not normally a problem, but if the building doesn’t say that the business is inside and you cannot find a webpage or an address for the business on the webpage… this is normal here!


Bremer Freimarkt

As mentioned, we had driven to Bremen to pick up Ingrid’s parents. My hot tip for parking there is to aim for Cornelius-Edzard-Straße or Claudius-Dornier-Straße. There’s a very good chance of a free car park and the best bit is that there’s no time limit or cost.
From the airport, we went into the belly of Bremen itself. To prepare the citizens and visitors of Bremen for the impending shopping and markets of Christmas, Freimarkt is a small set of stalls, some rides and many people drinking. We had the chance to introduce something very German to our just arrived guests: Glühwein. It took some finding, we even thought that maybe it was only available at the Christmas markets but lo and behold we found it. The drink takes me back to the winters in New Zealand, snow boarding most of the day and retiring with a nice warm glass of mulled wine.
For food we ordered at some stalls: wood fired fish, bratwurst, Nacken steak… Meat. I guess. I also couldn’t help myself, I got a half meter Wurst. Ingrid was disappointed that the guy broke it in half to make it more manageable in the bread. Still the bragging is there.
We got home and I made Ingrid’s dad a coffee so he could go to sleep.

All the things done in May

Finally, I think I’ve caught up on all the things we’ve done in May… well, notable things, that I can scrape to remember.
You can read it beginning here: A tale about an Island

When you get to the bottom of the post, click the next blog on the right hand corner and you will be transported to the next entry. Once you end up in June, then you know you’ve read all of May.
Highlights include our tour of Wangerooge, seeing many cultural things in Wilhelmshaven, and our roadtrip to Vienna, Austria!


An Anniversary of sorts

It’s been roughly 2 years since I proposed to Ingrid. She planned (yes I know, I should have and could have planned something too, think of me as a slob) a surprise dinner at a restaurant called Pier 24. This restaurant is huge, two stories, well laid out. It’s kind of fancy, I think you could say. The decoration of the place is, as Ingrid describes it “Nordic and sparse”. Lots of simple, neutral and pale blues, some natural wood here and there, nothing too bright or glaring.

We started our meal with sweet potato fries, I think I’d just written about them in the previous blog… yeah, Ok! We like them and we eat them all the time, even at home, we bake them, I admit it! We. Like. Sweet. Potato.
Ingrid ordered a Tagliatelle which had a creamy saffron sauce and little prawns. I had a hard choice, many things on the menu look fantastic, but I couldn’t go passed the idea of a burger made from Australian beef with cheddar cheese! So that’s what I had and I wasn’t wrong, it was very nice. They also have something from New Zealand, I can’t remember if it was Lamb or Fish or could be something else like actors and directors…
We were both stuffed afterwards that we didn’t dare to look at the dessert menu. I know, we are weak.


Kramermarkt Oldenburg

400+ years ago, began a market for farmers and creatives to sell their wares. It became increasingly popular and so the focus shifted, attractions were added to entertain the attendees, rides and stalls of food soon followed. Now it’s a huge 10 day party festival, with dance halls and cocktails! There are still things for kids to do too, don’t worry, and of course, you can also buy things from farmers.
We were attending with my colleague Haitham, his wife and daughter. We were on fire that morning and got to Oldenburg much earlier than planned, that granted us the gift of the perfect carpark, for free, directly across the road from one of the entrances. We did an exploratory lap, noting landmarks, the cheapest places to get the same food – I must tell you that you can save around 2€ if you don’t go to the first place you see for Sweet Potato Fries, all the portion sizes are the same, so it’s only you losing out (well and the business that is trying to dupe people of their money). The obvious and easiest meeting place would be at the Ferris Wheel, so we informed our ‘back-up’ we’d meet them there and we sat at the café next to the big wheel.

Haitham is a big spender, he loves the novelty games, buying junk and eating junk food. Sometimes it’s pretty great to be around him. He’d said that the previous year had cost him something like 150€ because of rides and games and food. To let you get a scale of this, a Bratwurst in bread costs something like 2-3€, a drink is about the same and the most you would expect to pay for a game is 10€ (the most!). It’s a lot of stuff, he has a good time and if one can afford it, no problems. This has it’s advantages: he’d suffered many of the games of skill before, so he’d figured out some things to do to tilt the odds towards your favour. We played the basketball game, where you have to throw the ball into the hoop as many times as you can – the trick is to bounce it off the net above the hoop, gives you a better, quicker angle of trajectory, you get more balls to throw then too, meaning more points. We pooled our basketball tokens and bought a whole heap of plastic toy junk to gift to the girls, made them feel special. I also won a plush animal that is like a husky for Ingrid by playing a shooting game. She was impressed with my marksmanship. So was I.

There’s not much more to write, we ate, we drank, we played, we payed and then we parted ways for the day.

Latin Party at Pizzahouse

I had helped Stephan move to Bremen yesterday. He managed to score a job there and eventually an apartment. He needed me not just for the muscle but also to drive a manual ‘Transporter’, one of those bigger, longer moving vans. Turns out it wasn’t so bad, there was just one bit of insanity with the driving: there’s a street that narrows around a speed hump, the idea being that traffic slows, or stops and criss-crosses to be safer. Of course, people instead see it as a challenge to beat the other car. I would let people through and then would almost have an accident when some idiot (normally in an Audi or BMW) wanted to assert his importance over my patience.
Once we’d arrived in Bremen, we carried everything to his apartment except for the washing machine. Before we could do that, I demanded dinner. It had been something like 8 hours since we’d last eaten. Stephan paid for an Indian meal, it was alright, did the trick. We both managed to get the washing machine to where it was needed. I got home around midnight and Stephan still had to drive back to Bremen, sleep and work early on the Saturday (being a doctor is sometimes a pain, it seems).

That brings us to today. The Latin Party at Pizzahouse. Pizzahouse is the best pizza in northern Germany, no question, no competition. They also make the best Panna Cotta dessert, no question, no competition. Our Serbian friends had missed us and so had invited us to join them for this night. Pizzahouse offered a special menu for the evening, a 3 course deal for 13€. Sinisa and I took that. The girls ordered sensible things like a salad. Our entrée was salad, it was huge! It came with dips and breads and, naturally, it was delicious. We then got our choice of pizza and then the same for dessert, all of it is delicious.
After the salad but before the pizza we were joined by Myriam, our good friend who loves to speak Spanish and our new Spanish friend Iria. It was also about this time that the “live band” started. I write it like that because it was two people who sang karaoke style over pre-recorded backing tracks of other people’s songs. The problem was that the bass was pretty loud, Ingrid had trouble with the baby, it was acting like it wanted out. We left early but we’d eaten all we needed to. Ingrid danced with the other ladies and it was a good night for all.