Friday, July 28, 2017


For those who are not German speakers, today's blog title looks slightly frightening, yeah? Do you wonder if it's something about not hassling the 'Hof (as in David Hasselhoff)?

It actually has nothing to do with that. Instead, it literally means "courtyard flea markets." In other words, it's a yard sale, German style. Since a lot of city dwellers don't have much room here, much less a full-on yard, people sometimes offer yard sales in the courtyard/parking area of their apartment building.

When I was visiting Nürnberg, a neighborhood hosted a sale and we bopped from Hof to Hof to see what was for sale. It was mostly your typical garage sale stuff, such as outgrown clothes, children's toys, and other ephemera. One particularly interesting Hof had prints from a photographer for sale, but all the other items were pre-owned.

Some cities even publish guides with the dates that the neighborhoods choose to host the sales as a group; Nürnberg is such a city, explained my newly made friend who showed me around.

Shoppers at a Hofflohmarkt
I didn't buy anything, but after the sales I did pick up Horst der Stinker (he is a toy) from a box at the curb, which is another, somewhat disturbingly funny story.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Richard the Lionheart Festival: Annweiler am Trifels 28-30 July

This upcoming weekend, there is a Middle Ages festival in Annweiler am Trifels, a bit west of Landau in the Pfalz. Its focus is Richard the Lionheart, who, although a 10th/11th centry King of England, spent most of his time in France. Richard had ties to Germany; he was imprisoned at the Trifels castle at one point.

I recently heard about this festival that is devoted to him. One thing that I love about it is that the mayor of Annweiler am Trifels is one of the costumed members of the festival. How cool is that? I can't personally go because I have another commitment, but maybe I'll make it next year.

For more information, check out this link:

Roadside candy machines of Nürnberg

Or Nuremberg, for those seeking an Anglicized version...

Several years ago, I visited the city after a work trip and was taken on a lovely tour by a local. We ran across several roadside candy machines and since I'm obsessed with them (or more likely the curious idea of who would actually buy things from them), I had to take pictures. My friends are accustomed to me screeching to a stop and whipping out a camera mid-sentence but I can only imagine what new acquaintances think. Then again, I'm slightly eccentric and make no effort to hide it so I think it's good to let them know early on what they'll be dealing with.

Anyway, watch out! Along came a sticky hammer, which reminds me of an overly hungry worker's tool kit after eating some cinnamon rolls (yes, I am always making very strange linguistic connections). This toy was accompanied by some boring ol' bubblegum.

The next one was partially filled with bubblegum but the other side was very exciting because it contained a "galactic surprise." Usually these aren't as cool as what seems to be promised but the illustration shows a car, a skeleton, a top, and a rabbit. Is it supposed to be something like space debris? It is unfortunate that I didn't find out.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

No one can agree

No one can ever seem to agree on how to say the food concoction "gyro." I've heard it pronounced like "jy-ro," "hero," "gear-o," and everything in between.

I saw this Arby's ad and it really tickled my funny bone. I think that's what I'm going to call them from now on.*

*actually, I'm more likely to call them Döner, even if they're not, because I've been living in Germany too long.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The current state of German learning

I took and passed the telc B2 German test this spring with a score of "gut," which is not dazzling but certainly acceptable. Now I'm finishing up a C1.1 class and had the thoughts below.

If you would have told me five years ago that the culmination of my learning German would be writing something like "Teachers stand in the middle of the ranking list, with an average of one third of the votes," I'm not sure if I would've done a *headdesk* or asked why I would even want to write something like this. Yes, I would like to attain a high level of German, but man, the advanced level (C1) is killing my soul with boring writing exercises right now. I guess that's what one gets when one is trying to pass a test that also serves as a fluency exam for admission to German-speaking university.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Bike night with a German friend

My friend J and I had a perfect, imperfect night. We ate delicious Mexican food served with mediocre service then returned to my house to hurl insults as a team at my three broken bikes as we attempted to repair them. We both were flummoxed by the same cable and had moments of hilarity as he crammed his more than 6 ft. tall frame on a small folding bike with flat tires. We couldn't get the tools to work and cracked up as we realized that the fancy bike rack I bought is too tall for the basement. That's an excellent night in my book.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Extremes in expats bloggers' view on befriending Germans

It's an interesting experience for me to read expat bloggers' take on making friends with Germans. I've seen opinions originating ranging from the expat who's gone to one local beer festival so she or he thinks she or he's an expert on German life and culture but has no plans to learn the language or to delve deeper in contrast with the opposite, perhaps a person who's married a German, has joined a German club or association, has learned the language, and/or has plenty of German friends.

The latter usually says that Germans are just like anyone else (duh) and that some are more willing to make new friends and others are a bit more reserved about doing so (just as with anyone else). The other category of people who live in Germany but more what I'd call "on the surface" of it have said some...interesting things. To them, becoming friends with Germans is a source of fascination but  seems out of reach.

I've read things from them, as well as click bait articles from The Local, that posit that being invited to a German's home will probably never happen as they are way too private for that to happen. Well, maybe if you barely know the person, but in my circle of friends, we enjoy visiting at one another's homes. The only roadblock to this is that sometimes we're too busy or are traveling to get together as much as we'd like.

Another silly thing I've read is that it's almost impossible to make friends with Germans. They have their own lives and aren't necessarily interested in inviting new people into their circle. Again, I haven't found this to be the case. Will the random person you run into the street want to be your friend? That would be weird so maybe not. Frankly, I would find that a bit unusual in the US, too! However, if you're generally not a butthead of a person and you join a club or a social event and you put yourself out there, you'll get to know people and might even make friends -- which is exactly the same in the US.

So, if you'd like to make friends in Germany, the best advice I can give is to join a club or an association. Be friendly but not too pushy. Ask the person if he or should would like to meet up - and be ready to have a specific date in mind and for the first meeting, a public place is best! If you're American, don't pull our bad habit of being vague and saying "we should meet sometime" because the other person is likely to produce a calendar to immediately set up an appointment for a time convenient to both parties. Mean what you say and say what you mean; that's how things usually work here. If you want to make friends, be a good friend yourself. All of these things can be useful for making friends no matter where you are.