Sunday, October 29, 2006

tried to post this on myspace -- got rejected. so here it is:

At home by myself on a crazy windy Sunday morning up on the 14th floor and figured I'm going to make an appearance on myspace. Unfortunately, since I'm so out of practice of blogging on here, or even anywhere lately, I haven't a clue what to write.

Anyway, life is good. Trying to get settled back into a regular routine from after a big vacation. It's nice though, feeling like you can set new habits and all that. Feels a bit freeing. It's weird how when you get into a routine, whether good or bad, you have only a little power to get out of it. Interrupt it huge, however, with a big trip somewhere and even your sleeping patterns are up for modification. I'm an early bird now! :-)

Posted some of my pictures from our trip. Only got the first few days up -- mostly Sweden so far. Will post some more soon. Check it out.

At home

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

They say it's always say that it's great to go away, but always better to come home.

Honestly, this time, coming home was a bit unsettling.

Of course, this isn't saying that I'm not happy to see my friends, or my family, or that I'm not grateful for the life I have here. But I feel like this time, when I came home, my eyes opened up to some things that I didn't see before (which is good), but I don't like (which is bad).

Like, people are so busy here. And what's worse is that I'm busy. I am so busy. People fit INTO my schedule. In Europe (and most of the rest of the world), schedules fit AROUND people. Time drives people around here like slaves. Since I got back, I am trying to be a little less like that. I'm trying to have the attitude at work that I can only do what I can - but of course, still have a great work ethic. The key thing for me is just not letting work stress me out so much that it just lowers the rest of my life, as if this is all that my life is about.

I'm also trying to be a little less tired. I go to work and feel tired every day. Probably because I sleep so late. I am finally living a little bit of my dream of waking early every day. Right now, I'm still sleeping in, but sleeping in is now 7:15am, and not 9:30am, 'cause I go to sleep around 10:30pm now. Last night, Gonzo and I went to sleep at 9:30pm. I don't know why I never discovered this before, but it feels amazing to be at work now, and be fully and completely awake.

Also, I came to having my car window smashed in on Saturday night (not yet a full week that I came back from holidays). Crime is all over the world, but it didn't help the unsettling feeling I've had all week.

I know that it'll pass. I miss my friends in Germany. I miss my new family in Sweden. I hate that I won't be there when big things happen, or when little things do too. That part makes me sad.

But I should be happy that I am home, where I won't miss the things that happen to my friends and family that I already have here.

Catch up!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Okay, so since the last time I posted, I forgot that you could change the language of the keyboard. So, yes, I've got it switched over to English and now it's not so torturous to blog to write email.

Since I wrote last lots has happened. I'll try to recap here.

Didn't have internet at all while we were in Sweden. Probably good for me, since I needed to wean myself off of my addiction to computers. Haven't felt the gravity of computers this whole trip, pretty much. Probably 'cause I know that I really can't post any photos on flickr! ;-)

My impressions of Sweden:

It is EXPENSIVE. Sweden has 25% tax included in all goods. Sweden's tax is so bad on goods that if you buy Swedish goods outside of Sweden it is cheaper. (that point seems very wrong to me). After spending one rainy day (only a few hours)in Stockholm we quit shopping and eating out, and stuck to visiting free things like manors and castles and parks. For lunch we spent what was equivalent to $70 CDN dollars on 4 people (3 non-refillable glasses of soda, and four pizzas). We spent $45 CDN on parking for 5 or so hours. It just isn't worth it. I could have blown all my money on three days in Sweden, and that's just not worth it.

It is SAFE. One of Sweden's primary values as a country is safety. Volvo is marketed in North America as a 'safe car', and once you go to Sweden you'll get why they are so proud of this. They have these meters on the highways that take the temperature and humidity of the air. As soon as it seems as though ice could form on the roads, salt trucks are out to work. Speeding is HEAVILY fined here. No one drives above the speed limit. As soon as roads start to develop grooves, they are repaved.

The Swedish people are very good with immigrants. They do not allow new immigrants who do not know the Swedish language to work immediately. They give them a kind of social assistance and put them through a program to learn the language. After three years they assess their language skills, and then allow them to work (or disallow them and have them continue the program. So eventually everyone is able to speak the language. Canada should adopt this for sure. I mean, the part of getting everyone to learn English. There are immigrants who have lived in Canada for decades and still can't say anything past 'Hello', 'Bye', 'Thank you.'

Swedish people, as a culture, and this is completely a generalization, isn't a friendly country. People do not greet each other in the street. I tried smiling at someone passing me in the street and they ignored me. After trying this several times, I concluded this is definitely something they were not accustomed to. They aren't rude. They just aren't warm. This bothered Tom quite a bit since Germans greet each other -- not only in small towns but big cities too.

The girls are pretty. The guys are nothing to write home about. Everyone is tall.

We spent most of our time with Gonzo's family. Sitting around the house eating all the time and talking very loudly. Tom and I joke that we took a quick trip to Chile (and not Sweden). 80% of what we heard spoken was Spanish. Much of his family only spoke Swedish or Spanish. We had a great time with them. They are a sarcastic bunch of people and once you got the idea that they teased you because they liked you, it was made way more sense. Poor Tom had no idea what was happening. He got the term 'Cola' attached to him somehow and day and night he would be called this. 'Cola' is a slang term in Chile for 'gay.' I picked it up quick that you have to have a come back immediately in order to defend yourself. At the end of day one, Tom asked why he was getting made fun of so much. Once I explained it to him, he felt much better. They are a tough crowd sometime -- but they really are wonderful people.


After returning late on Monday night from Sweden back to Frankfurt, we got picked up and went back to Erlenssee/Neuberg where Tom and Alice are from. In the morning Tom's mom came to pick us up and we had breakfast at the Wahls. They are some of the kindest people anyone could ever meet. I love to spend time with them anytime we can. After that, we got excited about Tom's new release CD that came in the mail for him. We were honoured with the first copy! We got him to sign it, but he wasn't too comfortable with the idea. We told him he had to get used to signing stuff and the screaming girls...

He said that yeah, he'd have to get used to signing... but he's pretty used to screaming girls already. haha.

We went to pick up our rental car in the afternoon that we are going to be taking to Berlin tomorrow. We managed to rent ourselves a Smart Car ForFour. It's automatic with what they call, "TipTronic." You can manually chance the gears forward if you want to. Don't know anything about that....

I do know, however, about driving on the germany highway now. I was speeding down the highway at 160 km/hr and had to move over to the slow lane with germans zipping past me like I was driving like an old woman. It's crazy. I can't believe that people drive so fast here. But I definitely like it! I got to drive part way from Erlensee to Heidelberg where we are today.


Heidelberg. This would be my second time to Heidelberg. It's a great city. So gorgeous. Gonzo said though that he was having an overload of experiencing 'old things'. He was serious. So, we didn't get to see the castle in Heidelberg on the hill that was built over three centuries. I saw it last time so even though I wanted to see it again, I wasn't too disappointed. We had schnitzel in the shopping mile at Bier Bretzel. Really cool joint. We had drinks the night before there (european milkshakes are more milk than ice cream ... in case you care). They have awesome french fries there. I have had french fries both times I was there now. My addiction lives strong.

At the restaurant Tom and I played a game with Gonzo where we name a movie and a scene and he sings the soundtrack. I know that he's the Soundtrack Index, but I didn't realize how amazing he actually is at it. Kind of scary, actually.

I am at around 700 digital photos now, of our trip. Most of which are good (I'm good at deleting immediately crappy and mistake photos). I have a problem where I actually feel like if I don't take a photo of a new place that I am visiting I actually feel like my trip was worthless. I might as well have stayed home. I know that doesn't make much sense, but that's what it feels like.

Tonight is soccer night with Tom's roommates. I guess that what would be equivalent to the North American Football night with the guys. I think that I'm gonna crochet...

Germany - the start!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Been in Germany for about 4 hours now... Feels so good. We'll be here for 2 weeks (well, with a break in Sweden - Thursday to Sunday).

******UGH. This German laptop has the 'z's and the 'y's switched. I'm gonna stop correcting myself from this point. Just switch them around in your head*****

So, zes, I am verz excited. Gonyo is currentlz passed out on the couch beside me. We had a verz late flight -- leaving Toronto at 12pm, and arriving at 7am Toronto time. He didn't sleep verz much. I definitelz slept more than him, but not bz much more. This would be due to the child that sat behind me with severe ADHD. He kicked mz seat everz moment that he was awake.

Before we got on the flight, i noticed him (around 5 zears old), with his mother and little sister (mazbe 3 zears old). I noticed him because his mother had him on one of those leashes (for children, of course). His mother was struggling with putting the stroller in the large plastic bag that Air Transat makes zou put on the strollers before putting them on the plane. She had to let him go. He started running around, and finallz came back to where his mother and sister were... he grabbed his sister bz the dress, and hit her hard twice on the back. This child was the spawn of the devil. And this child sat behind me and his screaming kid sister.

Other than that, the flight was perfect.

Tom came and picked us up at the airport. He had opportunitz to go home before having to pick us up (he arrived a couple of hours before us flzing from Toronto, stopping in Milan). We went to see his brother and his familz, and Tom's parents. It was so nice to catch up with his parents a little. It would have been three zears since I saw them last. So cool. I also met Tom's little nephew that I onlz saw as a bump on his mother's bellz the last time I was in Germanz. That was trippz.

Aiiighhhtt.. I am on german dial-up that bills bz the minute so I'd better go. Next time I'll construct mz blog in Word first to be more economical. Fer sure.

*sigh* I am in Germanz. This is great.