Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Buddy Mapping

Hello Everyone!!

I have found this really neat website that allows you to create a map of all you friends. So you will see a banner on the right hand side that say "Add yourself to my map of friends". So please do! It will be a great way to keep track of everyone's email address and current where abouts since everyone has moved to new places.

So please take a moment and sign my buddy map guest book!

Thank you! Danke! Koszonom! Merci! Dekuji! Dzieki! Gracias!

Paterson Reunion in Stuttgart

Well by sure chance, my two cousins and I were all in Stuttgart, Germany on August 29th. Julie lives and works here and Sarah was traveling through with her boyfriend Sean. It was so great to see both of them since it has been quite some time since I last saw them (7 years since I saw Julie and 1 year since I saw Sarah) Now the other neat thing is Julie, Sarah and I are the three female engineers on the Paterson side :)

So I thought it would be a good idea to take some pictures to commemorate the event.

This is Sarah and her boyfriend Sean. Yes, Sarah is holding a large spoon full of Nutella!

Here is the three of us at the ice cream shop downtown Stuttgart, not too far from Julie's place.

This is the picture of the men! Sean and Patrick : )

This was a great way to make my trip memorable. It was great to see both of them and hope to see them soon in the future! You never know where we might be next :) It was great meeting both Sean and Patrick for the first time!

Observations... From Germany

Some people mentioned to me how much they liked the “Observations” blog entry I did when I was in Budapest, Hungary so I felt that I should also do one for Germany. Since Adam has lived in Germany for a year, I was aware of some of the observations I have listed below, before I left for this trip. Daily task and such are not as surprising since Adam gave me a good pre-departure orientation for Germany : ) Thanks Adam!

So here are my observations so far…

- When one comes to the office in the morning it is customary to shake everyone’s hand and say “Guten Morgen”

- If you want ice cream in a cone you must have it for take away

- It is customary to say “Mahlzeit” just before and after lunch to your colleagues, the direct translation of the word is “Meal Time”, I just don’t get this one...

- Most German companies do not have voicemail I also do not get this one…

- Germany loves gravy on everything, it is commonly referred to as brown sauce

- There are the same number of cell phone contracts as the number of people living in Germany, more even more

- Cell phones are referred to as “Handy’s”

- Germany is very talented with parking many cars in the smallest amount of space possible (ie. a five-storey parking garage along a bridge, a revolving two level personal parking garage for a house)

- The water used to make beer is better then the water they serve for drinking

- Germany loves to mix beer with anything, lemonade, coke, berry syrup and even banana juice (Although I haven’t tried beer with banana juice, beer and coke is my favourite so far)

- There is a person in my office who still uses a typewriter!

- The older your car in the LESS you pay in insurance

- German television dubs everything… and the movies too (It is quite funny to listen to Paris Hilton with a German accent)

- A lot of things in Germany have touch sensors (ie. Vending machines, toilets, subway doors, ticket booths and crosswalk request buttons)

- It rains a lot in Germany!! (Or maybe I just have bad luck)

Well that’s all I got so for, hope you enjoy. Check back often for more blog entries soon!! And of course pictures!

My Car

Okay, so as some of you might know, I do have a car here while I am in Germany. I was originally suppose to have a manual gear shift, but it took my friendly colleague about 10 minutes to realize I wasn’t going to survive with a manual vehicle. It is unfortunate I wasn’t able to get up to snuff with the manual gear prior to my departure to Germany. I think it is understandable though, given my 3.5 hours of driving each day to and from work. It was hard to convince myself to go behind the wheel again for another hour and struggle to make the car go up hill. Although I have not giving up learning how to drive a manual gear shift, I hope to continue to practicing when I get back to Canada (Note to Steve and Dad: Please hold me to this statement!)

So the car I am driving now is an automatic silver Open Astra. This car feels much larger then Mr. SMART. My car is equipped with a navigation system, which I have come to love! (Even though for the first three weeks it was all in German, but I did figure out how to use it) Now I think most people who know me, know I have no sense of direction or the memory capacity to remember how I got to a location in the first place. So this navigation system is priceless, I am considering looking into models that are offered at home! (Christmas present idea maybe…) The navigation system also lets me explore farther out of my comfort zone knowing that no matter where I get myself the system can always lead me home. Here are a few other little neat things my car has…

- The windows go automatically down as well as UP! (it is illegal in Canada to have a window go up automatically since it may hurt a young child)

- When the radio plays the traffic report the volume is increased so you don’t miss it (You can program the volume to go up at any desired instant such as traffic or weather)

- If you have a CD playing and the traffic or weather is playing on you favourite station, it will stop playing the CD and switch to the traffic/weather, and then it will switch back when it is done

- The navigation system, radio and HVAC system are all controlled on the small computer screen located between the passenger and driver.

- This computer screen can also display your distance travelled, speed, mileage, weather, and maybe more that I have yet to discover.

- The car has a remoter starter, although its not needed during the warmer months

- The license plate has JE on it which is also the initials of the company founder of Eberspaecher

- When the car is driven in reverse there is a sensor which reads how far away the driver is from obstacles from the rear and will beep to let the driver know when he is in close range.

Besides all the gadgets and gizmos the car does drive quite well and I have driven it on the Autobahn!! The German highways (the autobahn) is built to handle quite high speeds and I am convince that the cars are as well. When you follow the flow of traffic, it’s amazing how fast you go without realizing it, I have gone as fast as 150 km/hr and it really doesn’t feel that fast at all, its always a smooth ride. (Mom, don’t worry on a normal basis I am not driving that fast)

While being in Germany I have met Mr. SMART’s large family. The Stuttgart area has quite a lot if SMART models since a lot of the population works for Mercedes (Much like how most of Oshawa works for GM). The employees here are given huge discounts on SMARTS since the SMART brand doesn’t sell as well as Mercedes would like it to. So I do miss Mr. SMART but I can always get my fix by just walking outside my apartment since there is always a fortwo and a forfour right outside my door.
Below I have attached some pictures of my car, just in case someone is not familiar with the Astra model (I hadn’t seen it before coming to Germany) Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Hello from Germany... Finally

Okay this will now be my second attempt with doing this first blog entry. I had one pretty much all done with pictures and when I cam back to it today it wasn't saved in my drafts!!! Bahh, so now I must start all over again.

So here I go.. For the second time.

So I have now been in Esslingen , Germany for three weeks and 2 days. I have been settling well in both work and at my apartment (although it is quite small.. smaller then the place I had in Bowmanville if that is possible!) With not knowing any of the language it was hard at first but I finally came around and have become more comfortable in doing every day things (with a little push and encouragement from Adam...)

Below are some pics of the area where I live. I am living just about a 5 min drive from my work in a town called Deizisau.

Here are the pictures!!

Look forward to many more updates I promise : )

This is the what you can see, when you step out of my door and look to the left. Those tall white towers is part of the ENWB power plant that is owned by France. It is a coal burning energy plant.
This is a house that is on the other side of the street from me. I took a picture of it because I think it is cute how the convertable matches the trim of the house. It is hard to see it in this picture but the windows are also trimmed in the same colour. Reminds me of that song.. do da da de dum with the blue house blue car and the blue man.. Is anyone following??

This is the street I take to work, at the end there is a roundabout that leads me to the Hwy B10. The video store I frequent is also on this street by that yellow street sign.

This is just another view of the power plant from the street that is parallel to mine, the roundabout is behind me in the picture.