Wednesday, June 16, 2010

XXL Beer

To make time pass quicker I traveled to Hamburg last weekend where my husband's new employer is located. He had been there since one week. Soleine and I took the train and enjoyed the fact that you can actually walk around in a train and enjoy the landscape, as compared to taking a  plane. Apart from that, the trip from Holland to Germany took almost 8 hours, in the same time you can fly to Miami or further.

My first impression about Hamburg? What a surprisingly nice city and so huge - third city of Germany. The city center is built around a large lake, like in Geneva, and surrounded by lots of old buildings. There are plenty of smaller canals, such as in Amsterdam, aligned with old-style warehouses, while there are also many newly built, super modern areas, which made me think of Rotterdam. The new area called Hafencity (yes, English is also penetrating  Germany, despite the Germans' fierce linguistic nationalism) is worth a visit, located at the Elbe, Germany's largest port. The only problem I had with Hamburg was the weather, I had not realized it's located much more North, compared to Belgium, and temperatures drop at least 10 degrees. A very good reason to find a proper German restaurant and order a solid 'wintery' meal of sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, with of course...Hamburg's national food item, not hamburgers but... wurst. Sausage in all colors, size and shapes can be bought at each street corner.
On our last night Germany happened to play against Australia for the World Cup. Of course we went to watch in the Kneipe, where everyone was wearing the national colors, cheering and drinking beers.
Whereas in the US I'm always amazed about t-shirt sizes, with small or medium being XXL to European standards, the same can be said for German beer sizes: half a liter is the smallest size, the normal size is one liter, I can't even imagine what XL or XXL must look (and feel) like. Heavy!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Art of Waiting

Can you imagine, after the rush of packing, selling, throwing and giving away all our stuff in Belize, canceling all contracts and contacts, saying goodbye to all our wonderful friends, all in ONE BLOODY week, we are now still waiting to  depart! Our new job was supposed to start June first.
It's the 11th of June now, and we're still in Belgium/Holland. Sigh again. We are 'preparing' ourselves for the stay in our new country....Madagascar. Happy as we are with our new posting, the 'preparation' time is way too long. Normally we just hop on the plane, as there usually is no time to sign contracts, no time to read about the history of whereabouts of the new country. This time we have more than 4 weeks to 'prepare'. Sigh. But what can you do to prepare? I've checked Google Earth to spot interesting neighborhoods in Antananarivo (I will take that house with that little blue spot!), I have watched Madagascar the movie several times, listened to a 2-hour lecture from a professor in Tropical Medicine about malaria and the risk of being bitten by a mad dog, or -Godforbid - a lemur!!, had my upper arms injected stiff with all kinds of tropical vaccines, I've sent my stool sample by mail (!-  discretion guaranteed, unless the mailman knows what Biological Materials Category 2 are), have checked the United-Nations-in-Madagascar website and e-mailed the American School of Antananarivo. What else can I do? I am done with waiting, I want to take the plane and get settled. Find a house, purchase appliances, buy a car, make new friends, start a new hash and a new blog. I don't want to be here, I want to be there!