Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Kochschule night

Phil suggested we get Katherine to look after the boys (not allowed to call it babysitting, Cameron says he isn't a baby), and we go out to dinner.
Sounded great....I didn't expect to be having to actually cook it though!

The language department at Phil's work have different events for the expats at different times of the year. This is the first one we have attended. A night at a cooking school, learning to cook a "traditional German meal".

It was great fun, we all had jobs to do, and learnt lots of great tips and techniques.
Most valuable tip of the evening....when cutting onions, have a drink, and keep the drink in your mouth to stop your eyes watering! I have no idea how it works, but it does! So, I can put my swimming goggles back in my swimming bag (which is what I usually wear when cutting onions, much to the hilarity of anyone who sees me doing it)

We had to organise a 4 course meal for 24 people! It was really well planned....

All of us before we begun. Hands up to show all the fingers intact!
The kitchen (before we started to cook)
The ingredients
Here we are finishing "plating" (there is the new word of the week) the first course.
The table was laid out beautifully.

Here are the dishes we prepared.

Beetroot and "feld" lettuce with parmasen cheese and basalmic creme.
Green peppercorn soup with Figs
Beef Rouladen, potato puree on a bed of stirfry cabbage and mushrooms
Red Berries and home made Icecream

It was delicious, and we met some new people and had a great laugh.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Happy 50th Birthday

to LEGO!

Today is the 50th anniversary of Lego. To celebrate, I cooked a chicken and ham pie, and decorated the top with circles of pastry to look like a Lego board!




We have tons of Lego in our house....and as the boys say
"A boy can never have too much Lego"...how true!

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Gruene Woche 2008

Inside activites here this weekend, lots of rain (We never complain abut the rain), but our normal Ice Skating Sunday Morning didn't happen (far too dangerous to be skating when the ice is wet).
Gruene Woche is on this week, a large exhibition on all things agricutural, and stuff from heaps of countries, makes for an interesting outing.
The favourite thing by far was the Flight Simulator. They loved having a go at this, and now I think we have to look at this for the Playstation or the computer!
There was an Australian Stand where they were serving Kangaroo and Crocodile Salami, Kangaroo, Crocodile and Emu Currywurst and Bratwurst....not something I can normally get at home! I was hoping for Mint Slices, Caramello Koalas, Freddo Frogs or a Vegemite Sandwich, or a simple Aussie Snag in Bread, like the ones you get outside of Bunnings on a Saturday morning from the Rotary Club...(makes my mouth water just from the sound of it)..so we didn't buy anything here!
It was a fun day out, and we got some good ideas for some weekends away around Germany...so stay tuned for more adventures!


Sunday, 13 January 2008

Aussie Visitors

It's not often we get visitors, because we are so far away. This week we had some friends come and stay with us. It was great to see them (and they also brought Caramello Koalas and Tim Tams..yippee!!)

Fiona has been in Norway for 6 months studying at Uni, Annette and Phil came over to do some touring with Fiona as well.

Fi and I went to the Story of Berlin Museum, which I had never done before. The bunker tour was really interesting, (built in the 1970's)it is an amazing place. The conditions you would be living in for 2 weeks are pretty grim...there are 25 other bunkers like it around Berlin. This one is the largest, capable of holding 3600 people. If ever it needs to be used, it will be on a first come, first served basis. But you would need 2 weeks warning to get all food, water, other supplies etc to cater for all those people. (Fi and I agreed, if you had 2 weeks notice, you would be getting out of the country pretty damn quick!!) Below is a picture of some of the beds..there are 4 beds above each other, and they go on and on and on....


Annette, Phil and Fi did lots and lots of walking and visiting, and I managed to go one day (Phil was able to be home to get the kids off the bus), and I love this photo of us at the Brandenburg Gate!

In front of the Red Town Hall

Phil flies planes (so Alexander thought that was terrific). The Luftwaffe Museum was recommended to us by a few of the mums from school. Phil and Phil took the boys to Gatow to see all the different planes. (This could be the highlight of Phil's European trip....he got to see lots of different planes that we don't get to see back in Oz.)






On Sunday, we took Fi ice skating outside, and she didn't fall once! Alexander and Cameron were too fast for us. Ice skating outdoors is a great Sunday morning activity we do during the Winter...even if they do serve very average coffee! Annette and Phil sat upstairs in the cafe and watched us skate around, they were a lot warmer than us. I think Phil was using the video part of his camera....I am too scared to ask to see that footage!

It was sad to see them leave, as they now head off to Salzburg, Prague, and quite a few other towns. We hope they had as much fun as we did! It was great for us to have a 'full house', and it was a really relaxed, easy visit that we miss them now they are gone! (other visitors welcome....)

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Vienna

We arrived in Vienna and stayed near Westbahnhof - about 2.5 km from the centre of the old town (St Stephens, shown above, is pretty much the centre...) It was a city that we loved visiting!


Here we are outside St Stephen's after visiting the Catacombs beneath the Church (and the square). Lots of bones and tombs for the boys to look at.. lots of fun!





Here are the boys on the famous 'giant wheel' of Vienna. Look closely at Cameron's hands...its Dad's camera again! The Giant wheel was destroyed in the war and rebuilt, and is one of the iconic 'things to do' in Vienna. Working on the age-old formula of buy-a-photo and exit-through-the-gift-shop, it seems quite successful! We had a great ride, looking all around, and the boys were a bit sad that the neighboring fun-park in the Volkspraeter was closed for the Winter. The weather was reasonably clear, and we could see from the mountains to the new centre and the old town.





Here was a spinning globe outside the planetarium. To see Europe, head up on the platform behind. To see down under, you had to head...well...down under!

One of our many tours by foot took us to this park - lots of fun dashing about in the snow, chasing the poor ducks and pidgeons, running on the iced over lake (only after we saw lots of others doing it...
Strausse - famous composer in Vienna, or the German translation of Ostrich (OK, its 'Strauss' without the last 'e')...! Here in the park is the golden statue of Strausse. Never seen an ostrich with a violin, so I guess it must be the composer....
From the Volkspraeter Wheel, we wandered through the Volkspark and crossed the canal heading back into town. A couple of happy boys after dashing around the park, jumping on the big chunks of snow left on the sides of the paths from the snow-sweeping trucks.
This is the 'HundertwasserWein' - a building designed by the famous artist/architect Hundertwasser. The boys thought it was fabulous and wanted to go and see the Hundertwasser museum nearby. Here they are below on the stairs in the courtyard of the museum, with a few typical Hundertwasser features...
The boys loved the exhibition, and think they can draw some pictures in 'Hundertwasser style'!


Here are the boys at the Shoenbrunn Schloss. The boys were amazed at the size of the gardens, and were really interested little tourists inside. They asked lots of 'interesting' questions and discovered some interesting facts (for example "If there were 15 children, why are there only 11 in that picture?" and "Why do they all have the same face?", and by the end, the whole tour group had adopted them!
We set ourselves the task of using public transport to get to an attraction in the Vienna woods that we thought the boys would love - the biggest underground lake in Europe. It was a gypsum mine until 20 Million of litres flooded it, and it is now a lake! In WWII, the fusilage of the Hienkel 162 (one of the first jet planes) was assembled in here. It was deep underground and the Allies couldn't bomb that deep. The fusilages were shipped to Wien airport and put together there. Below is a sign showing the dimensions of the Seegrotte.


One of the many dark caves on the huge underground lake. We walked into the mine, and then had a boat tour. Really interesting stuff! It was only us, and a young Italian couple on the tour. It was warmer underground (constant 9 degrees) than the -5 above ground!

Here are the boys in the entrance tunnel - everything went in and out through here - the mine trucks and also the plane fusilages! These two 'dwarves' were about the right size to work in here, I would reckon!

We also visited the Butterfly House at the Hofburg Schloss - the kids loved it! Not as good as the Melbourne Zoo Butterfly House, but it was a great place to strip down and get warm after walking in the snow! Once again, I had no control over the camera, with both boys having a turn to tour the Butterfly house and capture their view.
Overall Vienna was great. We were there for New Years Wve, but the boys were so tired from all the walking and doing interesting stuff that they had 'crashed' by 9pm. At midnight, all of the fireworks sounded like a mixture of small arms fire and larger mortars and rockets... A bit of colourful fireworks in the sky, but the Viennese seemed to favour throwing crackers at each other...!!

We caught the plane back from Vienna and are now planning our next trips...which we will let you know about soon! Happy New Year.