March 27, 2010

Entertainment in a foreign country

I decided now was the time to step back from all the travel updates and give everyone a picture of our lifestyle in Munich from a technology standpoint.

The first thing I'll just go right ahead and say: we don't have a TV. Granted, Greg and I didn't watch that much TV in the States either. Now, we have to use our laptops as TVs when we want to watch something. But the US television companies added another hurdle: a lot of them don't allow people overseas to watch shows online on ABC, NBC, certain videos on YouTube (shame on you, Sony). Hulu doesn't work overseas either.

Greg subscribes to the nightly news on iTunes, we borrow DVDs from the school's library, and sometimes we go see English movies at the cinema months after they've been released in the States. But other than that, we're really out of touch with American TV right now. Thank god, Facebook, Skype and Google work overseas!

Speaking of Google, when it's feeling cranky or mischevious (not every day), Google will switch me to its German sites. For as much as Google knows about my personal life, it doesn't seem to get it that I rely on the Google Translate toolbar to automatically translate German websites as if my life depended on it.

One moment I'll be happily searching on Google in English and the next moment, I'll be having a serious, swear-word-filled conversation with Google about how to find the link that will let me get directions to where I want to go. Google is not always on my good side, to put it simply. I won't even go into what happens when I try spell-checking an English e-mail while on German gmail.

Lastly, I have no clue how I've survived this long without Yelp. There's an expat forum called Toytown, which has been very helpful, but Yelp is in a league of its own.

So the moral of this blog post for those in the US, please enjoy all the entertainment options and social media stuff that us poor people abroad have to do without!

March 26, 2010

Santhi and James in Town

We had a wonderful weekend with my "uni" buddy (slang for "university"), Santhi, and her boyfriend, James. James was speaking at a physics conference in Regensburg and so they stopped over for a few days at our place. It was so much fun having the two science geeks around, especially for Greg as he needs an outlet to geek out with and I just don't love science as much. The first day I gave Santhi a mini-tour of the city and the beautiful English Gardens. The next day, we went to the Pinakothek der Moderne and found the hidden monster. There's so much cool stuff to see in the Pinakothek der Moderne from the design elements to the German Expressionist painters to the ultra-modern paintings and sculptures to the 80's-looking jewelry design.

This is one of my favorite painting collections - it's so whimsical!

And who doesn't love twisted metal?!

We picked up James from the airport later and gave them a tour of central Munich, running into St. Jakob's platz synagogue many times. We weren't lost per se, just seemed to have to backtrack all the time to show them cool things. Near the Viktualienmarket, we checked out a local beerhall, the Hacker-Pschorr beerhall, which was much nicer than the normal ones. Good for a quick beer and breze before dinner.

Monday Greg and I had to work so without our local knowledge, our guests managed to get themselves lost on the mass transit systems and wound up in Dachau for part of the day. They made it back in one piece and have now continued on their way to Regensburg, Zurich and Geneva. It's so nice to have visitors and to see a familiar face.

There'll be more familiar faces in our near future as we're heading to Israel in a couple days for 2 weeks!!! There'll be lots of eating, swimming in the Dead Sea, heading to Eilat and the Red Sea, and then figuring out my Israeli passport issues. Stay tuned for pics and narratives of our adventures there!

March 18, 2010

The Broomsticks were out!

On the way to my German lessons this morning, I passed by the street cleaning crew. Of course, their orange suits made them stand out, but what really caught my attention was their cleaning equipment - witches' brooms! No joke - the old twigs bundled together into a makeshift broom are how Munich's official street cleaning crews clear the streets of almost nonexistent street trash. I was just hoping one of them would hop on and pretend to fly away all the while cackling, but alas, that never happened. Thankfully, they were focusing on their job to clear away the pebbles Munich uses instead of salt on their sidewalks when it snows. Not pleasant to walk on those with any shoe even remotely not resembling a hiking boot. But so much better for the environment.

Back to the clean-up crew: they also get to drive around in these little bitty cleaning trucks with their witches' brooms sticking out the back. I don't know how many could fit in there, but sounds like a pretty fun circus scenario. I don't miss our car, but I wouldn't mind taking one of those out for a spin. I bet it turns a tight wheelie and parks great.