Wednesday, 09 December 2009

And so, after a long wait and lots of planning, it was time last Friday to get up early (yawn) and make my way to the airport to find my way to Panama.

To avoid spending hours and hours in Miami Airport, I had chosen a somewhat indirect route via Puerto Rico. This also enabled me to get up half an hour later.

Well, after buying some St. Lucia souvenirs for Marianela’s parents, I boarded an half empty American Eagle turbo prop plane and true to their usual standards, American Airlines had equipped the plane with 2 very experienced flight attendants, one of which was more than just the AA brand standard grumpy. In fairness, the other one was quite cheerful.

The flight was uneventful and not quite 2 hours later we were in San Juan, Puerto Rico – Home of Bacardi. After enjoying the thrill of passing US Immigration, I strolled through the rather unexciting airport marveling at the price of alcohol before boarding the next flight to Miami, this time on a jet.

This flight was packed and it even had a movie, so the two and a half hours passed fairly quick. The one thing of notice is that like many other airlines AA now charges for checked luggage. As a consequence people try to bring the most outrageously oversized luggage into the cabin. One person who, judging from the size of her bag, was either carrying a dead donkey or maybe an ice-hockey goalie outfit, got into an argument with the senior (and when I say senior about an AA crew member I DO mean senior) flight attendant, so we all had something to watch before the movie…

It was the first time I arrived in Miami without having to go through Immigration and this is quite a nice experience. The airport as such is the same old. Endless corridors and you’ll be hard pressed to find 10 people who work there whose native language is English. I’d say a fifth of the workforce does not speak a word of English. Be all that as it may, the nice people at Google are sponsoring free internet for the holiday season. Everybody and their neighbor got this to work on their laptops, I, of course, did not. Instead I purchased what might very well be the world’s smallest pizza for $8,99 - I inhale more insects on a typical day in St. Lucia than there was meat on that pizza…

Well, I had about 4 hours to pass and luckily I had my noise-cancelling headphones and some house episodes, so no problem there.

After 4 episodes it was time to find the gate for the flight to Panama and here is a neat trick for all you vertically challenged people like me. If you want to look tall, go to the airport and find the gate for the flight to Bolivia, most likely to La Paz. All of a sudden you will be the tallest person in sight. I reveled in that for a few moments and then proceeded to my own gate to be immediately surrounded by Harlem Globetrotter types again.

This flight was also packed and there was a young lady next to me who I suspect was calling everybody she knew to tell them that she is now on the plane. I have no proof for this but from the increasingly erratic phone conversations I would guess that she eventually ran out of people to call that she knew and so proceeded to just call random people. Just when I was about to suggest a few numbers for her, she informed us that she would move to the back where her friend was sitting who presumably had a few more numbers in her phone.

This gave me some more space and I enjoyed the movie Up, which, in case you have not seen it already, I suggest you go watch as well. Very nice story.

We eventually landed in Panama where they kept us taxiing and holding for a while before being let to the gate. I managed to understand and answer the one question the Immigration lady had for me in Spanish which made me feel somewhat confident. And so, 16 hours after I left the house I was in Panama where Miss M and her friend were waiting for me. I could have been in Dubai faster, but then there would not have been a Miss M.

I will tell you all about Panama next time. Hasta Luego!

Wednesday, 09 December 2009 14:28:14 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
 Wednesday, 14 October 2009

As you might or might not know, I was recently back home in Erding for some completely undeserved rest. As you probably know, it is currently autumn in the Old World of which Erding is a part. Among other things, with autumn usually comes a beautiful explosion of color in the trees and lots of leaves on the roads. However, autumn and the tree world also provide something far more important: Chestnuts.

When I was growing up, there was hardly anything more precious than a big massive pile of chestnuts. This pile had been collected over a maybe 4 week period. When I say collected I mean mostly picked up from the floor, but it also involved climbing trees, and hours of throwing something up into the tree in the hope it would dislodge some more chestnuts (or hit some other guy stronger than you taking your chestnuts). At that time the trees in our street were still very young and they would yield only a few chestnuts, so in your hunt you would cover great distances on your bike in the search for chestnut trees. All this would become the absolute center point and focus of your very existence. It would fill many afternoons and great energy would be expended doing it. Life was great.

I don’t particularly remember what ever happened to all the chestnuts. They don’t last forever and I think they eventually all ended up in the park where they would be fed to the deer. The next year you would start the whole process again from scratch. Brilliant!

Now, I don’t know exactly what, but something has happened.

The chestnut trees in my parents’ street are now quite a bit bigger and there are lots and lots of chestnuts. I could not help but notice that there were dozens of chestnuts lying around. How could this be? Where were the kids? I have been observing this over a couple of days and have to tell you that today’s children have alarmingly little or no interest in collecting chestnuts.

I do realize that collecting chestnuts is not a complex battle simulation with enhanced weapon systems and that there is also no IPhone app for collecting chestnuts, but I mean, come on! Get off your butts and collect the chestnuts! You do not have to do some lame arts and crafts project with them. Shoot them at the neighbor for all I care! But out the door you go with a bag and chestnuts it is! You do not even need friends necessarily!

Alas, it was not to be. And so, the Grinch had no choice but to collect chestnuts this year rather than to save Christmas. Yes, I was out there almost every day. At first, when I still could not believe that nobody would claim the chestnuts, I would create a little mountain of chestnuts under one of the trees. However, nobody other than dogs had so much than a passing interest. Later on I would carry them myself to the park. I mean, somebody has to do it.

I would also like to take this opportunity to apologize to some children if I have encouraged them maybe a tad too enthusiastic to collect chestnuts.

Furthermore I am exceedingly grateful and also a bit sorry to the little guy (Polish, I believe) in London’s Hyde Park (great chestnut place!) who I uninvited donated about 3 dozen chestnuts to as he was not only collecting chestnuts but had had the great foresight to bring a bag. It must have startled him a good bit to have a somewhat chubby sweating figure march up to him, grab his bag and drop in chestnuts which were produced from about every pocket. He might be mankind’s last chestnut hope.

But seriously, if you read this and have children, please send them out for the chestnuts. Trust me, its far better than Halo 3 or a stupid phone!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009 00:03:00 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
 Wednesday, 05 August 2009

And so, just like that and possibly only somewhat finally, I have left Curacao. The run-up over the last 3 months initially took forever and then in the end the days went very fast… I am writing these lines from my parents’ home in Germany

I have done all the necessary running around from the tax office, to the registrar’s office to Immigration and now have got another interesting looking stamp in my passport.

I have sold my car and my TV, both at staggering losses and I have returned my beloved little apartment with its wonderful terrace to my landlord.

I have sent off a good deal of my belongings to my next destination and have left a few bits and pieces behind.

While I am glad that I’m out I also sincerely can say that I had a good time. How could I really complain about a place with eternal sunshine where it is always Happy Hour somewhere.

Sure, the place will never cease to make me shake my head, it very likely has the slowest walking people on this planet, service is generally pretty bad and a good deal of the population will have to overcome their slavery attitude problems if they ever wanna have a go at the big game.

However, it is a real nice place to be if you have a few florin to spend and don’t have to keep worrying all the time.

I think I can say that I hold no grudges against country or anyone on it, but then again, hold that thought.

There is one thing I need to make the world aware of. The world’s most useless company is located in Curacao. I have come across companies in a range of countries that generally make you wonder. Curacao actually has an abundance of these. Admittedly, I’m not too sure I would have wanted to deal with some of the companies I have worked for, but these guys really really take the cake. I am talking of course about Direct TV.

I have long known that god’s plan for me involves spending some time with each of the world’s most stupid people and in Curacao this is undoubtedly the folks at Direct TV. This people are incompetent on such a colossal scale that it beggars belief.

Seriously, I have deposited more intelligent life into a handkerchief.

Every single contact with this company on any level was difficult and sometimes retarded beyond comprehension. I have tried everything with them to help them help me: I begged, I insulted & threatened them, I tried their approach and played stupid (which as you know will not take me all that much). Nothing works. As a rule of thumb, they will tell you one thing, and then either not do it, or do the opposite. I guess in a way there is at least consistency.

Even though my mum warned me about doing this, I do hope somebody from Direct TV reads this as all my attempts of contacting them have of course failed as even their phone system is completely useless and emails and faxes are not answered either. I hope I have insulted the shit out of you Direct TV folks and would very much welcome some sort of contact. As you know, you still owe me Naf 64, which you unlawfully have taken from my bank account on June 29 and which you promised you would return over 5 weeks ago. Consistent with your policy, you have obviously not done so.

If you do that again, let it be known that I will immediately take you to court. You have also failed to pick up the receiver, which I guess now will never be resolved.

Wolfi 014

Wolfi 002 But on to more positive things. Being the Ass(t) Controller I must have left some impression other than the continuously grumpy dude, as on my various leaving parties I was positively showered with valuable gifts that will invariably improve my life. Thanks very much everybody!

I have gained many interesting and valuable experiences and have come across and experienced many situations unheard of in my part of the world. I have gained new skills and as Manager on Duty I have attracted disaster to the hotel of almost biblical proportions (see some of the previous blogs). Most importantly, I made new friends.Wolfi 006

With that, I wish those friends and the little place that is the Curacao Marriott with its crew all the best of luck and success. In my experience you always meet twice, so be ready! Take care!

Wednesday, 05 August 2009 09:47:26 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [1]  | 
 Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Alright, after almost a year of silence and inactivity I am finally adding another entry to the blog. Lots and lots of things have happened since my last entry. I have been to Aruba twice, I had old school friends visit me here in Curacao, Christmas has come and gone and even more friends have come (in some cases making really serious self-mutilation efforts). Ah, and yes, the world economy seems to have decided that we all deserve a lesson and has gone into "defiant-shutdown" mode. This among other things has moved me to find a new job and so this will be my last Curacao-based blog entry. This however is the future. Let’s look back a few weeks first.

I have also been to Florida recently and let's make this the subject of today's blog.

Florida. How come you might think... Well, I had never really been to Florida before and a girl from Hotel school in Switzerland called Beatrix (Trixi) lives in West Palm Beach, Florida. Since I have come to Curacao we have been trying to organize a visit. And now finally it has happened.

And so I recently found myself at 5:30am at the airport here in Curacao to entrust my life to American Airlines to carry me to Miami. After the usual headache with Immigration, I was on the plane and then in Miami at about 10:30 in the morning. Now, I could fill days telling you what is wrong with American Airlines and Miami Airport, but let's better get on with it.

It was actually a Friday and my friend had to work and we had agreed that I would take the train from Miami Airport to West Palm Beach. Taking the train in America is always an experience.

To start with, in America it seems that taking the train somehow equals admitting defeat. It seems to say that you can't afford to fly or to own a car and let's just face it, if you don't own a car in the US of A you have reached Rock Bottom. More about that later.

In any case, after purchasing a ticket for $5.50 (which interestingly left me with 14 One Dollar coins) I was on the train.

The train, it has to be said, was reasonably clean and also reasonably on time and so we were off.

We were driving through some pretty rough neighborhoods initially but it soon got better and more resembled what I had in mind when thinking about Florida, i.e. lots of Condos, Boats and water.

After about 4 stops or so, the ticket conductor came. Now, let's pause here for a second.

I have taken some sort of train in at least 8 or 9 countries, admittedly all European. The majority had conductors. All of these conductors were pretty much the same: they all had some sort of uniform and all were checking the validity of your ticket. This conductor here (a rather attractive lady actually) did the same thing.

The very noticeable difference here was that she was wearing a Kevlar vest and carrying (if I'm not mistaken) a SIG Sauer handgun.

I had arrived in America.West Palm Beach March 09 065

While I was proud to see that the Florida TriRail has selected a Swiss-German firearm manufacturer to provide its employees with some firepower, I was wondering what sort of passenger is usually using the service making such a response necessary. I made a mental note only to use this train during daylight and also vowed to certainly have my ticket ready at all times.

Her (combat) vest was carrying all sorts of accessories from Pepper Spray to plastic hand ties and so she looked capable of not only dealing with ticket offenses but also with the aftermath of a terror attack. I'm still not sure if that is making me feel any better.

Eventually I got to West Palm Beach station where I got of the train my friend picked me up to take her back to the hotel where she works.  West Palm Beach March 09 074

The hotel is called The Breakers and is something else (www.thebreakers.com). It is one the grand old dames of hotels and has been around forever. It employs about 2000 people and has probably seen everything there is to see. The Saturday after I left they had an event (birthday party I think) and the price per person (and I swear this is true) was $930 plus tax plus 22% service charge. You get the idea….

After a quick tour of the hotel, I got Trixi’s car (interesting) and was off to do some shopping and kill some time. West Palm Beach March 09 075

Driving around West Palm Beach you would not get the idea that the economy is in any sort of crisis. In fact, you would think it could not be healthier. The yachts as well as the amount of high end German cars was more than impressive (seriously, why would you ever drive a Lexus?) as was the amount of ah, somewhat “restored” ladies in the shopping mall.

I’m pretty useless when it comes to shopping but I did find a very good bookstore (something seriously missing in Curacao) and had some decent pizza (also not so easy to come by here) and was pretty happy. It was surprisingly cold (cold as in only 16 to 18 degrees Celsius or so) and windy, but armed with my books I managed to pass the time before it was time to head back to the hotel and then to my friends home.  West Palm Beach March 09 009

After a quick stop we were off to a place by the ocean whose name I have forgotten for dinner and drinks and later on to some sort of Irish Pub turned Club or something which inevitably led to some rather serious inebriation. West Palm Beach March 09 015

As such, the next day began a bit slow. Unfortunately, there was really no time for slow as we were off to a Spring Training (i.e. Pre Season to you and me) Baseball game. Trixi’s boss is a bit of Baseball nut and got us the tickets. We were off to see the Boston Red Sox play the Florida Marlins. These things can start rather early over here, so we were on the road by 9:30 or so. After a quick lunch (which maybe not surprisingly) involving beer, we were at the ball park around one. Things were going slow and there was not all that much to see at this point so I am very ashamed to report that I fell asleep. I was blissfully dozing away, even during the national anthem and I would like to apologize for that.West Palm Beach March 09 021

Anyway, the game was a rather rained out affair with many breaks, very few actual starters on both teams and very few runs scored, but I can now say that I have been to a Baseball game…West Palm Beach March 09 023

The next day Trixi and me were off to Miami Beach for purposes of sightseeing etc. After milling around for a while we had lunch at a place at the ocean (again) and while this might not mean a lot to many of you, we were sitting at the table next to Arne Sorensen! I did not muster the courage to go up to him and ask him for a picture, but I sort of sneaked a picture of him and his bowtie pasta.

For those of you that don’t know, Arne Sorenson was the Chief Financial Officer for Marriott International and has recently been promoted to Chief Operating Officer and is very likely to succeed Mr. Marriott himself once he steps down. So out of a work force of over 300,000 I was sitting next to a guy at the very top of the tree. Cool ey? I will, on this occasion only, forgive you if you are not quite as excited as myself.West Palm Beach March 09 028

Anyway, afterwards we went for some more sightseeing and were then off to the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach. It is another famous hotel that has been around for a while. It features in James Bond’s Goldfinger where the lady to be covered in gold is on the balcony watching the bad guy play cards at the pool.

I had heard that it is an absolute must see after a one billion dollar restoration (again, no kidding here)! And you know what: They were right! Even if you don’t know anything about hotels, this place will blow your socks off. It is awesome. Words can not do this justice. If you get the chance, absolutely go and check it out. Here are a few pictures to give you an idea. We had the absolutely most expensive sushi ever and 2 very good cocktails but it was worth it!

West Palm Beach March 09 064

West Palm Beach March 09 032 West Palm Beach March 09 034 West Palm Beach March 09 038 West Palm Beach March 09 048 West Palm Beach March 09 053 West Palm Beach March 09 058 West Palm Beach March 09 047 West Palm Beach March 09 044

And with that the weekend was over and I was on my own. The plan was very much to take Trixi’s car and drive about 250 miles north to the Kennedy Space Center.  This is something I have wanted to do forever, especially with all the stuff they had going on with the anniversary of the Moon landing and so on. So, after dropping off Trixi at work and topping up the tank, I was off on my trip.

Now, I do not want to ridicule Trixi’s car (actually I do, but let’s pretend that I don’t), but I think it is fair to say that it has seen better days. There were a few non-essential bits not working, but hey, it was a car. It is a Saturn and no, I’m not very familiar with the brand either.

Well, I made it to the Interstate alright and I was cruising along when about 60 miles later a rather loud noise notifies me of a tire failure and imminent personal expiry due to losing control over a vehicle travelling at 80mph. As I am here to tell the tale the more awake among you will have probably gathered that I have managed to stop the car in one piece on the hard shoulder.

After surveying the damage I figured that it was not that bad and that it was fixable. I can see some of you with the ol’ No Way Wolfi can fix that himself look on your face…Now, those of you that know me a little better know that anything more complicated than changing a light bulb does become a bit taxing for me. Fair enough, however, due to September 11 and following unemployment I do actually have rather good tire changing skills and within minutes I had the car up, the tire off and I was about to put the spare one on, when I realized that it too had no air. Hmmpfff!West Palm Beach March 09 083

This did represent a bigger problem now as I figured out soon enough that my Curacao phone was not willing to co-operate with the US networks. What to do? Well, no other chance really than finding the next call station for the Highway Patrol folks. After quite a hike (it appears that they are 1.5 miles apart and that, of course, I chose the wrong direction) I got to this rather interesting device, which undoubtedly had saved many lives but was not immediately willing to save my day. You see, you open this hatch type thing and are presented with 3 buttons. One for the police, one for ambulance and one for Roadside Assistance. You are also informed via text and signs to press the relevant button for 10 seconds, that a confirmation tone will sound and that no voice communication will take place. Great!

So, for good measure I press the button for 12 seconds but do not get a confirmation tone. Okay, better try again and make it exactly 10 seconds. Nope, does not work either. At this point, a certain, ah frustration sets in and I really consider giving the damn thing a good bashing. You must understand that at this point I am quite dirty from changing the tire, pissed off about the lack of air in the spare tire, have just labored and walked in the direct Florida sun for a good half hour (i.e. I’m sweating like mad) and that most likely I will not make it to the Kennedy Space Center, because I have to walk another friggin’ 1.5 miles as this thing does not work.

After a short consideration I try the police button, but it does not work either. At this point I proceed to give the thing a good shake accompanied by some rather colorful expletives in a variety of languages. Needless to say that it is a complete waste of time and so, finally, I slam the hatch shut – only to be presented with the confirmation tone.West Palm Beach March 09 084

Upon re-examination of the little signs, I would have to admit that you could possibly gather this from the drawings, but you would obviously need to be quite a bit more alert than me.

Anyway, after walking back to the car in a now baking late morning sun, it is another 25 minutes or so until the tow truck arrives. The very nice dude driving it actually managed to inflate the spare tire and we put that back on so I at least escaped being towed. He also issued me with instructions to the next car dealer.

And with that I was off again, this time somewhat more cautiously. About 20 minutes later I was at the tire place the guy had described to me, however as it turns out, they did not have the required tire in stock. They gave me another place and this turned out to be the Tire Kingdom, which admittedly I did like better than Goodyear Stuart. After another 45 minutes or so I was the proud new owner of a tire and once the guys had put it on for me I was ready to hit the road again. It was 12:15pm. The guy at the Tire Kingdom estimated the time to Kennedy as another 2 and a half hours and as the last tour leaves at 14:30 (they take quite long), I was quite out of luck. There was no way I could push the little car to cover the distance. Also, I had spent most of my Kennedy funds on the tire.  West Palm Beach March 09 087

So, with a heavy heart I started to return back to West Palm Beach, this time opting to take the small road (for American standards) along the ocean. This was a really good idea and I was treated to some nice views along the way. Of course, there is also the usual sprinkling of gas stations and fast food outlets.

When I saw a sign for the Loggerhead Marinelife Center, I stopped on impulse to check it out. Now these wonderful people there try to save any animals that come into more contact with humans that is good for them, which basically is pretty much any. They specialize on turtles and the place is essentially a turtle hospital/rehab. Please do not mistake these turtles with the ones some people have at home. They are rather small. These here are massive. They have all been injured in one way or the other and they are trying to nurture them back to health. Again, pictures say more than words, so here you go….

West Palm Beach March 09 103 West Palm Beach March 09 088 West Palm Beach March 09 089 West Palm Beach March 09 090 West Palm Beach March 09 092 West Palm Beach March 09 093 West Palm Beach March 09 096 West Palm Beach March 09 101 West Palm Beach March 09 102

And with that I will leave you for today. I still have not figured out how to align these pictures properly, so if it looks funky, please forgive me. In any case, you have had enough to read and I have to go to the airport… I hope to be back here soon. There is certainly enough going on to fill a few more spaces… Take care and I hope to see many of you soon in person. 

Wolfi

Tuesday, 21 July 2009 17:58:00 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [1]  | 
 Monday, 15 September 2008

Okay, after the wedding on the weekend, I obviously had a few more plans for my vacation. Most of them involved doctors, dentists, opticians and a good number of my friends.

You'll be glad to hear that after parting with large amounts of money I now have new glasses, a new filling in a tooth as well as a new haircut (well, just less hair really). I hope all of you will be even happier to hear that the blood test confirmed that my final expiry does not seem imminent and that I have not brought home any nasties from my travels. I was advised to eat less meat though...

Most of these errands I ran on foot or by bike and it is just astonishing at what pace my little hometown changes. Shops and bars disappear, whole new industrial zones get stomped out of the ground and there is construction everywhere. There is a sushi restaurant! What once was the most familiar territory, is now a bit uneasy.

Not to be outdone by the town, my parents have gotten a new kitchen recently. You have no idea how frustrating this can be. The place that held plates for the last 2 decades now has glasses.It would obviously be too easy to put the plates where the glasses were. And so it is with everything. Bowls, cutlery etc. Hours of entertainment... The only things that have not moved are the fridge (phew!) and the stove. Aaaah, the stove. The stove represents the final straw.

You see, it is operated by some sort of touch button system intended for really clever people. I have spent quite a bit of time trying to figure it out (hunger can be quite motivating and I'm not really into raw eggs), but to no avail. I had to eat cold. 004 005

Cold, hmmmm. Yes, that is also a subject here. While the first week was bathed in late summer sunshine, this morning it was 4 degrees. WTF? But let's not linger on that. There is one more interesting change:

Once upon a time, I was charge of mowing the lawn. None of my glorious brothers ever took up that task and my parents now don't have a lawn, but a meadow. Yes, a meadow. And tell you what: It looks really cool. And in case the hop farmers in the Hallertau can't keep up, the Bendls are ready to step in: With our very own hop! Bet you don't see that everywhere. Have a good one!

007

Monday, 15 September 2008 13:09:06 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
 Thursday, 11 September 2008

My apologies again for not writing more, but live is just too hectic. However, I am on vacation now, so I will try to make an effort to post one or two blogs.

I imagine some of you associating the word vacation with some more travel and you are not wrong.

I have made the trip home to Germany again, this time via Miami and London. This is certainly not shorter than the Amsterdam option, but quite a bit cheaper. It also stands to hope that the Miami-London flight is not a plane full of families with tons of overheated and restless children returning from a holiday in the sun.

When I booked this in what seems like ages ago, American Airlines was servicing little Curacao twice a day from Miami, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. I had booked the afternoon flight to connect to the London flight in Miami which would eventually get me home in something like 20 or 21 hours altogether.

Alas, you know it is usually not a good sign when you receive an email from your caring email with the subject line "Your itinerary has changed".

You see, with the economy in the US slowing and Curacao being somewhat of a luxury destination, our friends at American Airlines have figured that the demand would drop and have swiftly axed one of the two daily flights. That meant if I wanted to get off the island towards Miami last Thursday, I'd better be on the 8am flight. As such, that would not be a problem (other than supposedly having to work on the day and having to get up at 5 am), however, there is no suitable connection in Miami to go anywhere in Europe at around noon. I pleaded with the guy to change the flight to Paris, Zurich, Madrid or wherever the hell else they go, but to no avail. It was London or nothing. It also meant a good 8 hours in Miami. It also meant that the overall duration of the trip was now somewhere around 29 hours. You can almost reach the International Space Station in 29 hours!

Anyway, I was off at 5:30 in the morning to the airport, where it seems to be some sort of standard that I always meet our General Manager. With that out of the way the flight to Miami was rather uneventful. Once you shuffle off the plane and even though you won't be staying in the country, you have to clear Immigrations. If, like me, you have loads of time to spare this can be somewhat entertaining if you watch others despair at the impossibly slow progress of the unbelievably long line. So, if ever you connect in any American city, brings loads of time to make your connection. In my case it took one hour and ten minutes to provide the US Department of Homeland Security with another set of fingerprints and a digital photograph.

When I then had collected my luggage, entertained US Customs and rechecked my luggage, I still had about 7 hours to kill.Kirche St. Michael

Now in case you don't know: If you have nothing to do, 7 hours is a looooooooong time, even if you're trying to cheer yourself up with Quesadillas once in a while. Luckily, I have about a gazillion episodes of House on my laptop and that makes it a bit better. But then of course a laptop only lasts so long, so you could have seen me sneaking around Miami Airport looking for a functioning power socket.

Well, I don't wanna bore you forever. Eventually they let you on a plane and fly you to London (I was so knackered I even slept for a while!) where you wait another 3 hours for your next connection. In London at least there is a bit of let-up as I have never been to Terminal 5 and so have something to explore, my phone works and internet is free.

Eventually I do really get to Munich where there is glorious sunshine and my dad waiting for me. I'm home 20 minutes later and will finally go to bed about 2 hours later.IMG_0012

However, that is only for a nap. Another 2 hours later I'm up again and back on the way to the airport. No, not to take off again myself but to pick somebody up. You see, one of the major reasons for going home is to attend a wedding. Now, I have developed a certain dislike of attending weddings on my own. Because of that, and because all the local ladies suitable to accompany me to such an event are unavailable, I have to resort to flying in a companion. Is that sad or what? Thanks Tine for doing that for me!

We of course go for a drink before we go home, but in contrast to the 2 previous weddings I manage to not get properly sloshed and cling to the Apfelschorle until 2:30am.

The next day brings glorious sunshine again and is the day of the wedding. My brother is invited too and so at about 11am we set  of for about 45 minutes drive to the church where my friend is getting hitched.

I know Wuschi for about 20 years now, which means that we do know certain aspects of each other's lives suitable for print and others not so suited, which I guess is what makes friends. It also means that we are getting old.

They had already married at the Registrars Office earlier this year, but this is the BIG ONE now.

Ballonaktion 4 The wedding goes of without a hitch (well, he almost did not get to kiss her) and soon we are at the hotel where the party is to take place. After some heart cutting and balloon action, we do get down to the real wedding stuff like eating, drinking and dancing.

The mix of people along with the weather make for a very nice atmosphere and we party late into the night in what will remain a very memorable wedding. I am very glad I made the long trip home for this. No, I did not catch the garter and I think I did not misbehave too badly otherwise either. Just this once jetlag works in my favor and I manage to hold out right until the end 4:47am.IMG_0002

And with this, I will leave you know. I attach a few more pictures to try and convey the atmosphere to those of you who weren't there.Wuschi & Nicki Hochzeit 060908 046 

Have a good one and I'll be back soon with more news from my holiday.Brautwalzer 2

 

IMG_0108IMG_0161 Wuschi & Nicki Hochzeit 060908 058 Wuschi & Nicki Hochzeit 060908 084 IMG_0075

Thursday, 11 September 2008 11:34:26 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
 Saturday, 16 August 2008

Well, I could tell you all about my boss getting sick with chicken pox and me drowning quite a bit at work, but then who wants to hear about that.

Instead, I will tell you about the consequences of the return of our IT Manager. You see, just like me this individual was sent traveling and has just recently returned. To save money however, we had merged our 2 households into one and had given up one apartment. The apartment we gave up happened to be mine. When I returned about 6 weeks ago, I had moved into her place, which is where all my stuff was anyway. New House 007

As it is a one bedroom apartment, this worked just fine until her return. Once we got news of her return though it was time to start looking for a new home.

I have made my experiences before with estate agents here as well with a local landlord. I was therefore determined to accomplish this whole task without both. There is quite a good website here that helps and as you will see in a minute, it worked out.

So as of about 2 weeks ago you can find me at Oost Jongbloed 66c. It's a brand new Mini-Resort with 12 units. I'm in the red one. 

New House 005There are 4 big upgrades from the previous place for essentially the same price:

I do have a Dutch landlord who has the added benefit of living next door, so you can grab him relatively easily to get something done, which is fantastic compared to the previous guy.

I do have a guestroom now which should be interesting to the ones of you thinking about visiting.

I have a terrace now (something I have missed very much) which is almost as good as Germany's best beergarden at my parents' house and just as well suited for drinking beer. There is even more days of sunshine and you can sit on your terrace without a shirt on Christmas Eve at 11pm to wait for Santa. I'm writing these lines on my terrace. Unfortunately I have no grass I could cut or any other plants so I will have to make do with the other dominating landscape feature which also doubles as the final upgrade: New House 009

I do have a pool now. It is so close I could throw my empty beer bottles into it without too much effort. Is that cool or what? Yes, I think so too. It also makes for a rather nice place to drink beer. After all the children have drowned that is and it is a tad more quiet. Unfortunately the little buggers seem to have intention of drowning, so for the moment I will have to put up with the critters. And of course I do not throw my empty bottles into the pool....

This would not be me and it would also not be Curacao if it were all that easy. Of course we do have a few challenges as well. None of my lights work properly, I have a broken toilet seat and no curtain in my bedroom which means it is bathed in light by about 6am. Those of you who know me, or have been lucky enough to spend the night with me know that unless I was somewhat inebriated the night before I am rather sensitive to light

More importantly, my glass sliding doors which double as the only entrance have decided that they don't really like the new occupant and have been playing up. So, if you would have been at my house Wednesday evening, you could have witnessed some rather interesting scenes:

There is my landlord, his handyman Fritz (love it!), the neighbor and myself trying to convince the doors to open in the beams of some car lights and flashlights.

During all this the 3 of them converse heatedly in Dutch. To cut a long story short, I takes about an hour to get me inside.

Well, I could tell you more, but I gotta go. The laundry is waiting and Happy Hour begins in 90 minutes.

No time to waste! More after the Housewarming (or hopefully cooling) party.

Take care!

Saturday, 16 August 2008 20:31:11 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
 Friday, 25 July 2008

This time I really wanted to tell you what a fantastic institution the Registrar's Office here in Curacao is, but I have now decided against it.

I have already been sort of evicted once, so I won't give them another reason just yet.

Instead, as I am in Amsterdam just now, I need to inform my fellow Germans (and all you others who might be interested) of what I have recently learned about our lovely neighbors, the Dutch.

Let me begin by saying that I think it is no secret that there is generally not a lot of love lost between the 2 countries, but that we exist in a somewhat peaceful co-existence. I had some rather violent encounters with Dutch people in the not too distant past, but it would take too long to narrate here what happened and I have come to the conclusion that the bunch we ran into at the time were just the sort of idiots of which there is no shortage in Germany either.

Growing up in Germany and in Bavaria at that you will normally form a certain picture in your mind about the Dutch. Some of that picture might among other things involve cheese, tulips, windmills, bicycles, rather odd shoes and hats as well as the color orange. I need to point out at this stage that we Germans are probably also pictured with rather funny clothes around the globe. Anyway, if you are of my generation and male the picture will most certainly involve Frank Rijkard spitting in Rudi Völler's hair as well as thousands of Dutch caravans blocking up German motorways in summer and thousands of Dutch registered cars with skis on the roof driving on our motorways like maniacs in winter. Blissfully, they seem to prefer certain Austrian ski resorts.

I think the huge number of caravans must be the most universal component of the picture in Germans' minds.

Now for decades I have lived under the impression that the picture they must have of us would involve Germans coming to invade once in a while, building the type of cars the Dutch would like to build themselves but can't and usually advance further somewhat undeservedly in international football tournaments.

If they are honest, they would also admit that they really do prefer German beer to their own brews, but who is to blame them for that, ey?

I realize that this might have been a tad naive, but quite frankly I had not given this all this much thought over the last 20 years or so.

As it turns out, I could not have been more wrong.

I don't remember exactly how this came up, but nevertheless and also very much to my surprise the thing that Germans are most associated with in Holland is ... are you ready ... DIGGING HOLES ON THE BEACH!

Yes, you read correctly. That is what we do apparently. And not only that. Once we have dug a hole, we proceed to sit in it.

When informed of this I obviously did think they were having me on....

Now please picture the following in your mind if you can:

It is a Sunday evening in Curacao and there is a well known beach bar with Happy Hour which is packed with hundreds of mostly somewhat inebriated people, most of them Dutch. In between the whole melee there is a pretty blond Dutch girl with a somewhat balding overweight German dwarf in tow asking people randomly what it is that Germans do. Without fail everyone that she asks without hesitation states Digging Holes.

Can you believe that? Even though I was there to witness it first hand, I still have trouble believing it.

Well, at least now I know and so do you.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to buy a shovel.

See you on the beach!

Friday, 25 July 2008 10:59:26 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [1]  |