February 28, 2010
Beyond the fee that we pay each month to keep the account open, we also pay for the privilege of having our cards because they don't accept normal credit cards here. We can hardly ever use our Visa card, American Express, etc. This is just one example of the nanny state Germany sometimes feels like. It makes one miss all the choices available in the States.
I should specify here that the charge is not a lot, but it highlights the major difference in opinion about how cards are viewed here versus the US. Germans would rather do cash for everything than risk going into debt. They don't trust themselves to keep track of their money if it's not on hand (of course, they're so organized, they'd be the best at it). In this instance, it's not like the Americans (or Ami's as my co-workers told us is the slang word for Americans in German) do it much better with their crazy amounts of debt. I wish there was something in between that would blend the traits of the two countries.
After the castle, we walked across the Charles Bridge and randomly found a pizza place for lunch. We even got the happy hour deal because our lunch was so late! Greg was very happy with that. He was still recovering from his cold so we headed back to the hotel to relax and warm up before crossing the river again to try out a lovely Spanish tapas place. The tapas were similar to the ones served in Spain so it brought me back. The Manchego plate and tortilla espanola were especially delicious. Afterward, we tried to watch a band in a bar, but they still allow smoking in the Czech Republic, much to our dismay! With Greg being a little sick, it wasn't worth making him feel worse by staying there. C'mon Czech Republic (and Austria), smoke-free is the way to go!
On our last day, we went to the Museum of Decorative Arts for its Swedish and Czech glass exhibit. This was a quirky museum filled with more than that! They had old clocks, fabric, textiles, Czech jewelry, furniture and commercial Art Nouveau posters. After that, we had lunch and grabbed some bagels (from the fabulous Bohemian Bagels) for the train ride back. Since then, we thankfully have found a nice bagel shop in Munich.
February 22, 2010
Second, I had to pick up my tax card today for my job. Unlike my work permit frustrations, I have to say they made it much easier to get a tax card. The longest part of the whole ordeal was when I went up two flights of stairs to be told to go to the basement (or so I thought) and then to figure out they must have said to go to the first floor (where I had come from in the first place). But I was proud of the fact that I conducted all these conversations about asking directions and telling people what I was there for in German. It feels good to have the power to communicate with the locals after so many months of being helpless. Now I obviously need to work on my understanding of the responses. ;-)
Anyway, basically what I got out of today was that the government here hates the idea of me working in German, but it loves to take my money - about 20% in taxes and 10% in health insurance/social security. It's all part of living somewhere different though.
February 21, 2010
On the way from our hotel into the city, we stopped off at the Powder Tower and Obecni Dom (municipal building) next door. The Powder Tower was blackened with age and stood at a contrast to the municipal building, which was Art Nouveau from top to bottom.
Thanks to CxOxS for this one of the Jewish cemetary... now just imagine this whole thing snow-covered.
The Jewish Quarter itself changed throughout the years depending on the situation the Jews found themselves in in that particular century. Sometimes the leaders tolerated them, sometimes they hated them. As usual, a cyclical history of mild tolerance and severe intolerance continued.
We stopped off for a late lunch at the fantastic vegetarian lunch place, Lehka Hlava. Take a look at the photos in their gallery in the link. The room we were in was the night sky room with big comfy chairs and lighted wooden lookalike tables. The waitress actually came around in the room at one point with incense that smelled like campfire. Greg unfortunately was too stuffed up to taste the flavors, but it was a fantastic lunch. He instead kept the bowl of fresh mint tea near his face for most of the time. The fresh mint tea was the best over there!
I'll post the rest of the days in Prague over the next week *hopefully*. For a sneak preview, here's the link to our photos. Enjoy!
February 17, 2010
Steering clear of Czech food as it is not vegetarian-friendly, we ate at some awesome places - vegetarian hippie place that was actually clean and used their spices in moderation; Spanish tapas (ay, manchego y tortilla espanola); Italian happy hour pizza and pasta; Bohemian Bagels (that's the actual name of the place - great for a bagel fix); and Mexican burritos and quesadillas. Not bad variety for a city! If anyone's going there soon, let me know and I'll hook you up with some names.
And I'll leave you with that because I'm beat and tomorrow is my busy day of the week with German in the morning and work in the afternoon. The one Czech word we were excited to use never came up so I'll use it here: "Ahoy" (hello) as in "ahoy to my bed, good night to you."
February 9, 2010
|Walk around Schliersee|
We're off to Prague on Saturday for a few days, and we'll be sure to post pictures and updates when we return.
February 1, 2010
Lastly, a picture our friend took of another teacher friend while he was biking to school