Archive for the ‘just for fun’ Category

hello world

Friday, January 24th, 2014

To anyone who still has this website in their RSS feeds, surprise!

Broken database link plus baby-addled brain equals three years of downtime.

But thanks to in-house tech support, EuroYankee is back.

easily entertained

Monday, October 19th, 2009

I am the opposite of a movie snob. The moment that a movie gets too artsy and abstract, I lose interest. But one thing I have to admit is that I am much more tolerant of trashy non-English language movies than trashy English-language ones. I guess because a large part of the entertainment comes from watching movies in a foreign language. The most recent is this Maria movie, starring Christian Ulmen who seems to always play a German antihero.

txirimiri

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

I have added this Basque word to my everyday vocabulary. Txirimiri falls somewhere between mist and drizzle. It seems like it won’t make you wet, but in the end it does. It’s been a strange few months in that it hasn’t been raining much here, just a lot of txirimiri. But unfortunately there have been recent signs that the German rainy season might soon be upon us.

season’s end

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

It could be the last beautiful Sunday in Germany for a long, long time. That’s what everyone was saying. Which means it’s time to get out the hiking boots and head for the nearest national park, which in my case is about 1.5 hours away in the Eifel. It has all the necessary requirements for a beautiful day of hiking: a charming lake with lots of inlets, a cafe at the mid-point, a ghost town and a Nazi cum NATO training area, now a “museum” with the worst Apfelstruedel on earth. I forgot my camera, but other hikers didn’t, so here are a couple of pictures.

photo credit: Claus Moser, leguan001

superlatives only

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

A recent trip to northern Spain provided the perfect blend of friends, beaches, cities, food, culture and tourist traps. In fact, due to the number of superlatives we ran across during the course of 10 days in Galicia, Austurias, Cantabria and the Basque region, I guess I’m obliged to call it the best vacation ever. Here’s my list of highlights:

1. F’s friends accompanied us on the most humorous visit to an aquarium I’ve ever participated in. They kept eyeing all the elegant fish and sea creatures swimming in the giant tank and telling us how delicious they all are to eat. “It’s a shame to talk about them like that, but they’re just so yummy.” We ended this day by inviting our tour guides to a vegetarian restaurant. It turned out to be the least annoying vegetarian restaurant I could imagine. It almost made me think it would be possible to stop eating meat, but then I thought of those cute, delicious fish…

2. It wasn’t long before we were sent by F. to the best beach in the world. The day could not have been more perfect. Blue sky, upper 70’s, cold, clear water. R saw plenty of his favorite bird, the seagull. The islands actually have several beaches, all of them gorgeous. There was one moment when we were floating in the ocean towards evening looking back at the shadows from the trees growing over the sand and I almost thought I could agree with the “best beach” assessment. Unfortuantely there were too many naked people marring the scenery, but hey, you can’t have it all. (see number eight).

3. We ate the most delicious octopus (taken straight out of a pot of warm water, its legs cut up with a scissors before our very eyes and garnished with olive oil, salt and a little paprika) at a Galician folk fest which we stumbled across on our way back from the island. Yum-my.

4. I love cider. In fact, it might be my favorite alcoholic drink. So imagine my pleasure at arriving in Asturias, the spiritual home to cider. And not just Asturias, but realizing that the best overnight option was going to be Villaviciosa, a small village which is the epicenter of cider production in Spain. And imagine pulling into the small town and finding an incredibly charming hotel. We wandered out the door for dinner and stumbled on an amazing tapas place where all the locals were hanging out and where we had the best cheese ever. And on our evening wander around town, we stumbled on an authentic sideria, the kind where they “throw the cider” and where we were strongly chastized for our ignorance about the ins and outs of cider drinking and where an entire wine-sized bottle cost something under 2 euros.

5. Supposedly, we were just a short walk away from Spain’s most beautiful alpine lakes. But we couldn’t see them through the fog. We had to make do with a much less satisfying hike at a lower altitude in which I personally experienced why they’re called the Picos de Europa because some little plant did a lot of picoing of my legs, which itched like hell afterwards.

6. At some point, we ended up checking out a replica of ancient cave drawings at Altamira. The drawings are amazing and lead to deep contemplations of the origins of man and the meaning of life.

7. Which then brought us to what Sartre supposedly dubbed Spain’s prettiest town–Santillana del Mar. It was almost too pretty. Like a Spanish version of Bruges.

8. The next day, we visited a beach located in spain’s most important costal ecosystems. It was in a beautiful cove with clear water and once again too many naked middle aged men for my taste, but hey, as a German resident I am morally obliged to support FKK.

9. Bilbao has the best pintxos (as tapas are called in Basque) on planet earth. After asking around for “the mushroom bar” on the recommendation of our hotel owner who was concerned to hear that there were vegetarians in the group (best mushrooms I’ve ever eaten), we randomly walked into bars and asked for whatever they had without meat. Turned out to be a culinary tour in and of itself. The cheese croquetas! The tortilla! The whatever all those things were. It’s impossible to keep it all straight when each pintxo is accompanied by a drink.

10. Did I mention that I am an honorary member of the nicest family on the Iberian Peninsula? These guys introduced me to Europe when I was still a high school dork. And they’re just as amazing 16 years later. We got taken on a surprise outing to France…or make that the Basque region in what some consider to be French territory, wink, wink…where we watched Itz.’s bad-ass band and partook in French delicacies (seafood, seafood, seafood and creme brulee).

11. And then, to cap it all off, N + N’s wedding. It was the best, of course. There were starters and champagne served seaside. Then, we went into the Kursaal for one hell of a delicious meal. I counted six courses, in all. We sat at the cousins table and got a huge kick out of the use of the word “terrible” (in this context, used to denote that something was terrific) (rolled “r”, said as dramatically as possible). Then there was dancing. Hours and hours of dancing. Dancing until we nearly couldn’t stand anymore dancing. It really was one of the most terrible trips imaginable.

permanent resident

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

One hazard of living in Germany: gnomes show up uninvited. This little guy has taken up permanent residence on our balcony. I’m afraid to evict him. He is wielding an ax, after all.

as punk as it gets

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Here’s a word of encouragement for all of you who haven’t been to a rock show in awhile: There are still plenty of great bands out there waiting to be discovered. Lately I’ve gotten my kicks in at a few great punk concerts.

A few weeks ago I went to see Knochenfabrik play a birthday party. The floor was awash in beer. People were going crazy. It was great. The latest band was EA80, which I saw on Friday. Apparently these guys have been at it since 1979. That’s 30 years of punk rock. And they are masters. The singer (who looks like he just got off work as a plumber) has an amazingly deep voice which fits the forlorn sound the band has going. And they rocked, and rocked, and rocked. There was even the requisite screaming from on top of the bar. They reportedly held out for years against the CD onslaught, do little to no self-promotion, never give interviews, just play, play, play.

(photo credit: tinseltown damned)

alaaf to the start of lent!

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Well, I did it. Dressed silly. Danced all night. Got schunkelned against my will. Listened to the same 20 silly songs played over and over. Sang along with them at the top of my lungs. Stole candy from children. Technically, the partying continued until Tuesday night when they burn the Nubbel to atone for all the sins committed during carnival. Yet at this house, carnival is officially over when my in-house Karnevalist finally staggers in, takes a shower, and delcares that he’s never going to drink alcohol again. Even though I’m not catholic, there’s nothing like carnival to make one appreciate lent.

snap, crackle, pop

Friday, February 20th, 2009

Once every couple of years I give into an inner urge to create something. Usually, this is sparked by a visit to a museum where I catch sight of something which is both visually appealing and requires little in the way of actual artistic abilities. The idea eventually becomes an art project. The current project was inspired by the work of a Spanish artist (whose name I can no longer remember). One of his pieces was at the Irish Muesum of Modern Art. He used stamps with ayer, hoy, mañana (yesterday, today, tomorrow) and used them to create the shape of a tree.

I got stamps which say snap, crackle, pop and used them to create a shape which is supposed to suggest fireworks. Whadda you think?

somethin’ for nothin’

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

For the past three years this trash find has sat in our attic, taking up space. The plan had been to turn it into a funky-looking coffee table. But I lacked the necessary knowhow. Yet it turns out that my in-house pack rat is also has secret carpentry skills. Who knew! The entire project took about an hour, once we had gone to the hardware store to pick up all the needed parts.

The best part is that we essentially constructed a usable carrom table for ourselves! I guess the game is a cross between billards and shuffleboard and is played by flicking little discs across the square board and into tiny holes at the four corners. I’m very excited to begin practicing, since I love table shuffleboard.