Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Oktoberfest: Party like a German

I've never partied with a happier and crazy group of people than the Germans at Oktoberfest in Stuttgart. We took the train about 15 minutes outside the city, to a massive festival. There were all types of rides, and I couldn't imagine how people could drink gigantic steins, and then go propel themselves in these vomit-machines. Each major brewery put together a giant tent, each with it's own personality. The first one was rather tame, with Germans dancing on tables to a rock group comprised of young men. I love how they yodeled during the chorus and played the accordian.

We then made our way to the hip tent of the evening, with a live band rocking American pop music. David and I ordered a stein to share, and watched the Germans becoming drunker and drunker. Young people and old people alike walked around in traditional garb. I couldn't believe the number of liederhosen parading by. You can't see in the photo, but one of the old men was wearing furry rabbit shoes. I saw tons of young men in hiking boots and tall socks, with mountain climbing shorts. David and I shared steins, thank goodness, because they were HUGE. I can't imagine drinking a whole one. We went to another tent playing American rock and roll favorites from the 70's, including Deep Purple and the Rolling Stones. We decided to partake with the Germans and dance on the table benches.

One of the best parts was the train ride home. Germans were crowded in like sardines, singing loudly. They were all smiling, and very drunk. They sang the entire 20 minute ride back to the main station, and David and I were humming by the time we got off the train. All and all, it was very fun, and the most massive beer fest and party I have ever seen. I can't imagine what it must be like in Munich, with tents that hold 10,000 people!! We went to wine country today and visited some of David's family friends. Soon we are going to Italy. It's all been a blast so far.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Beautiful Amsterdam

I'm sitting in a hotel room in Stuttgart, Germany, getting ready to go outside, so I'm going to throw up a few photos of Amsterdam. We wandered around for several hours yesterday, looking at the people and architecture. It's really a beautiful city, with off-kilter, pushed together buildings, and winding canals. I love watching the boats go by, and the swans.

Hopefully I'll be able to throw up some pictures of Oktoberfest, and maybe some video too. Wish me luck!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Amsterdam: It's all about the people

We met an Australian man last night who told us something along these lines, "Amsterdam isn't the most beautiful city in Europe, but it's one of the richest culturally." We sat outside at an Irish bar in the Heinekenplein, which is a huge square lined with restaurants and bars. Our waitresses were Scottish, and we talked to this Australian, James, for three hours, until lights blinked in the darkness. He and his Scottish wife were married in a castle, complete with kilts and bagpipes. He drank Guinness, we drank Belgian beer. People rode by on bicycles, one guy with a joint between his teeth. James told us about his experiences living around the world, about how the Dutch and the Germans still don't get along, about how socially accepting it is in Amsterdam. We had a great time with James, and I'm sure we'd be friends with he and his wife if we lived in the same city.
I think one of the greatest joys of visiting a city is to interact with the people who live there. We haven't really taken any pictures of Amsterdam yet, or done anything touristy. I love that there are fruit stands everywhere, that bikes are more popular than cars, that men sit outside at coffee shops holding their babies and drinking espresso. I love that the coffee is frothy and rich. There is no watery Denny's drip coffee here.

Today we've spent time in the outskirts of Amsterdam, hanging out with David's old friend from Texas, who lives in an area that's predominantely foreign, and Moroccan. We had delicious Middle Eastern food for lunch, now we're hanging out with the apartment he shares with his Polish girlfriend (who's not here right now), and two turtles.

So far, I've really been having a blast. The weather has been wonderful, and so has the people watching. There is a very high porportion of very good looking people here. It's like walking through an issue of Vogue magazine in Dutch. Last night we ducked our heads into a salsa club, then went somewhere a little calmer for a beer. We'll probably hang out with Nick and his girlfriend tonight, then on to Germany tomorrow. Oktoberfest, here we come!

Friday, September 25, 2009

The ride to Europe is a long one

Right now, I am sitting in my airplane seat, half awake and groggy.
It's about 10pm in Seattle and I just had morning breakfast service,
as it's 7am in Europe. A sunrise the color of blood oranges is
creeping across the horizon, and I see pinpricks of cities far below.
I wonder where I am in Europe , and feel as though I've finally found
civilization after a long ride over the black and mysterious Atlantic.
We're due to arrive in about an hour, and if my battery holds up I'll
publish this in the closest hotspot. The flight seemed short from
philedelphia at only 7 hours, and I caught a tiny bit of sleep after
dinner and watching the new star trek movie for the third time. It
seemed as though last time I came to Europe, it took 9 hours from
somewhere on the east coast. The clouds under me are mottled with
blue, and have the texture of a down comforter. I wish I could pull it
over my head and sleep. There are so many adventures to be had, that I
hope I can quell my excitement to take a quick nap before exploring. I
love being this high up as he sun greets the earth, and I greet a new

Sent from my iPhone.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I just set up my iPhone for mobile blogging so I can take lots of
pictures of Oktoberfest. This short post is a test.

Sent from my iPhone.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Spontaneous is my middle name

Most people spend months, or even years planning a trip to Europe. David and I make the decision to go next week. I love spontaneity, I think it makes life fun and crazy. I know it makes some people nervous, and I'm glad David shares my love of the unexpected.

Several days ago, David found out there would be a big AICC conference in Stuttgart, Germany. This is where people from the aviation industry gather to learn about the latest advances in e-learning, which is his specialty. He wrote to the organizer, and immediately got on the docket to present his work. Boeing, the flight division, will be there, which is a client David hopes to snag. Anyway, we looked at airfares, and found with a week notice they were around 700 or 800 bucks. David called a few friends, look at ticket prices, and two days ago booked is into Amsterdam, and out of Paris for 800 dollars roundtrip.

This is so exciting that I can hardly concentrate on anything else. We will be spending time in Amsterdam, Germany, and Paris, and I just found out yesterday that it will be OKTOBERFEST in both Stuttgart and Munich while we are there. Guess where I'll be while David is at his conference? I did some research, and the Stuttgart festival is the second biggest in the world. There are tents that hold 5,000 people. I think I'm going to have to set my blog up for "mobile blogging," and will be posting pics to Facebook on my iPhone when I have a WiFi connection.

I was just telling David last week that we needed a vacation together. He's been working on contract most of the summer, and we haven't really gone anywhere together since Mexico in Januray. I was feeling depressed last weekend cause I felt it was the LAST sunny day EVER, and David had to slam to get his project finished. I guess someone heard my plea, and threw a vacation down in my lap. A vacation to EUROPE. I can't complain.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Machiavelli's, and a Bad Blogger

Last night my Mom sent me an email, "You haven't blogged in SO LONG." It's true, I haven't, and I've had an idea in mine for a WEEK. I feel hyper distracted lately, with my mind roaming to the book I'm trying to write. When I don't feel creative, I read books about the craft of novel writing. I'm also sucking in fiction like it's ice cream, and reading a book by Joseph Finder, who was a keynote speaker at the Writer's Conference. The more I read, the better writer I will be.

But now, I'll write the post that's been waiting to escape for the last week. Disclaimer: Please excuse my photos, as they were taken from a camera phone.

Machiavelli's is on the cusp of downtown Seattle and Capitol Hill, where urban gives way to hip. Preppies in sweaters from Abercrombie mingle with hipsters with low slung jeans and lip-rings on the street out front. The zing of tomato sauce, basil, and spicy Italian sausage seep from open windows, tantalizing the senses.

David and I are lucky to find a seat in the tiny, crowded bar. The hint of the setting sun turns the bay windows red, and the inside of the bar glows. Frank Sinatra's voice rises from old Bose speakers as the pregnant bartender pours wine, champagne, and martini's. A vintage cash register dares to be touched. I suddenly feel like I'm in New York, Little Italy maybe. I love the intimate setting, and can't wait to go up the stairs into the restaurant.

The tables are covered in red tableclothes, and are placed haphazardly inside the small dining room. I'm only a couple feet away from people to my right, and an open window offers a view inside the small kitchen. I borrowed the below image from their website so you can get a better feel of the place.

The waitress brings olive bread and oil for starters, and we order the tuna carpaccio for an appetizer. It was delicious: thin slices of tuna covered in marinara, capers, and parmesan cheese. For dinner, David orders spaghetti with meatballs, I get lasagna. Both entree are cheap, maybe 10 dollars. The photo from my iPhone doesn't do it justice, but I'm putting it up anyway.

I have to say this is my favorite restaurant in Seattle. It's affordable, unpretentious, and romantic. The food is incredible, with subtle flavors and depth. The sauces on our dishes were both red, but tasted different. I would highly recommend Macheavelli's on Capitol Hill, but be prepared to wait.