Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve in Manayunk, Philly

For the last day of the year we had several options to chose from. The first one was going to Andrew's college party. Andrew is the American intern who already a legendary Halloween party. The second option was attending Artur's house party in Manayunk, a suburb of Philly. But somehow I felt like going out. Mona, Tim, Svenja and her boyfriend Stefan were in as well, so the girls started the research about the bar scene in Manayunk. Mona and Tim live in Manayunk, so we all had a place to sleep, that was the perfect point about it. We were a bit late to get tickets for the brewery which would have been our favourite location as we heard that it is supposed to very good. Unfortunately also Bourbon Blue was sold out as well. But in the end we found a good deal. Our ticket was $60 with entree to 2 bars, the Bayou bar, an American sports bar and the Cactus Cantina, a mexican bar. The ticket included mexican buffet and open bar from 9pm-1am. Sadly enough, Mona didn't join us for so long after we entered the bar. We were walking from the car to bar through the cold and it was very hot in the bar and Mona suddenly went pale and grabbed Tim's arm. She had problems with her blood circulation. So we sat down and she tried to recover but even after one hour she didn't feel better and realised that it would be the best to go home bc of the air in the bar, the smell around, the music and so on. It was really sad to let her go but if you would have seen her, you would agree that it was the best she could do as she was white as the wall. Tim brought her to the taxi and came back later. The atmosphere was really good, the DJ played good music, the people were roughly about our age and it wasn't too crowded, so that we still had enough room to rock the dance floor. In the last seconds of the last year, everyone started to stare at one of the TV's around to see the ball dropping at Times Square in New York and all of us counted the last 10 seconds. After midnight, the bar emptied pretty quickly and so made our around 1am to Artur's party to go on.

There we a few other interns at Artur's place like Corinna, Christian, Miri, Poldi and Phillipp, so it was great to celebrate the first hours of the new year.
Later on Tim, Svenja, Stefan and me took a taxi and went home to Mona who sleeping like a baby. Our first day of the year started around 12am and until everyone had a shower and until we had breaky it was after 2pm....How much better can it be???

Watch all the pictures on my digital photoalbum:

Friday, December 25, 2009

Xmas 2009 in the US

December 23 was the big travel day. It felt like everybody left for home. Interns were driving interns to the airport or picking up the incoming girlfriends, boyfriends or family members. I also gave another intern a ride to the airport and then I made my way down to Washington. I wanted to catch up with a friend there and then come back home on Christmas day (December 25) in the afternoon. Ryan and me spent the whole day (December 24) cruising around, hunting for Christmas presents for his family, picking up presents or dropping presents at a different family members. In the evening, we went to his mum's house in Chestertown which lies half way between Washington and Philly which reduced my travel time the next day by half. We helped her wrapping all the tons of Christmas presents and I was admiring the huge Christmas tree and the mass of presents the whole evening.

The next day I was home around 3pm and prepared our dessert (which we couldn't eat because were so full after the dinner) and then I went over to the neighbour's house. Bill stayed at home, taking care of the turkey. Betty was already there and we joined them for a glass of wine for about one hour before we headed home for dinner.
As I missed the traditional turkey dinner on Thanksgiving (because we have been in New Orleans) and I never had the turkey in the traditional American way with all the veggies, the stuffing and the Cranberry sauce, they both promised me a few weeks before that they will prepare the turkey for me as the Christmas dinner. I was so looking forward to it! Our neighbour Kevin joined us and brought the veggies. It was all so delicious, I really liked it, especially the mixture of the turkey with the sauce.
After dinner, we all sat down by the fireplace with some wine and talked. Of course, it was a bit different than Christmas at home because my family was missing but it was still so nice and so relaxed.
The days before Christmas actually made me kind of homesick and I was a bit sad not to be with my beloved ones. But I guess, it was good that I didn't stay at home (in Wayne) the whole 2 days (23rd and 24th) because I would have been all on my own as Julien left for France, Stefan for Germany and Lalo for Delaware to spend Christmas with his girlfriend. As I was on the road and having my friend around in Washington actually distracted me which was good. And once I came back home, Betty and Bill were around, so all was good then. Now all is fine and I am back in shape ;-)

You can see the pictures on my digital photoalbum:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The big snow storm....or...let it snow:-)

On Friday, December 18, everyone was talking about only one topic the whole day: The heavy snowfall that has been forecasted since days for the upcoming night. We had a few of our sales people in the office for a meeting and all of them wanted to leave the office as soon as possible in order to catch certain flights before they got cancelled. For me, the whole talk seemed a bit overreacting because we still had blue sky in the afternoon, honestly!! But also my boss told me before he left the office for the weekend: "Gerry, it can get nasty this weekend, I don't know how hard it's gonna snow but if it stays the whole weekend, don't risk to come into the office on Monday. You better work from home then." I somehow got the feeling that they just didn't know how to deal with snow.
We had Watchi's farewell and Petra's birthday dinner on that night in a bar in West Chester. It was a cool party night, even though the DJ played not always the very best tunes...
Anyway, when we left the bar at 1am in the night, it had started slightly to snow! Wuhu! But nothing to go crazy about! Just very tiny little bits...You cannot even call them snow'flakes'. Driving home was not an issue at all.
Jillian stayed over at my house this night and when she opened my blinds, the next morning everything was white and not just powdered, we really had a thick layer of snow.

And it was still snowing. When Jillian left, Betty (my landlady) was already out and shoveling the snow out of our driveway.
It went on snowing all day so I placed myself in our dining room, overlooking our garden and watching how the snow layer got higher and higher...It looked to peaceful outside and Bill cooked some hot soup for us. We drunk hot apple juice with cinnamon spice and watched the snowflakes. If I get somehow sentimental or sound like a little child, it is just maybe, I have never seen so much snow and it reminded me on my childhood, when I used to built a snowman with my siblings in my granny's garden.
In the afternoon, Betty went out again, to remove the new snow and by the evening it was not possible to leave the house anyhow. So I ended up with Julien watching a movie.
What a nice and perfect winter day!
The next day it stopped snowing. The news were had no other topic to talk about than this massive snow fall. It usually doesn't snow that much and not on one day here in this area my landlord Bill told me.

We had about 25 cm but there were also other cities who got even 10cm more. Two interns were supposed to fly to Germany and Canada and also 2 of my colleagues wanted to leave for the holidays but all the flights got cancelled on Saturday. My car was covered with snow and I wondered how to get rid of all the snow as a simple handbrush would not be of much help...Well, I ended up, removing the snow with a snow snow shovel...never did that before...but it was kind of funny.

Then I also helped Betty who was removing the new snow from the night before again. Later on, Julien and me went to Valley Forge National Park and took some nice winter pictures there.

You can watch all the winter pictures on my digital photoalbum:

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas time - Time for Cookies!

It is December 13 and Christmas is close. And what comes definitely with Christmas? Yes, for sure the cookies! We were talking and planning to make a cookie-baking-day since weeks. Finally we found a suitable date for everyone.
For me personnally, it was a bit exhausting as I came back that night at 6 in the morning from New York and got up at 12 again because the girls came. Petra and Anni took care of all the shopping and stuffed our kitchen with tons of baking ingredients. Then also Svenja, Jackie and Jillian arrived. Our schedule was tough: We wanted to bake 6 different recipes...As Jillian helped and 'trained' us to carve the pumpkins we told her that she had to join us for the christmas cookies session. Petra and Anni started with 'Vanillekipferl' and cookies with jam while Jil and me picked the easy recipe: "The Best nut cookies in the world" (that was the name of the cookies). I really wanted to go for these ones because we could use cookie cutters with this dough ;-) We also prepared 'Nusskipferl' and 'Kokosmakronen'. The last cookies we tried on were 'Zimtsterne' but something went wrong with the dough because it was far to liquid to cut the stars with the cookie cutter. So we messed this one up but the rest was pretty good for so many chefs in the kitchen...Especially the 'Kokosmakronen' were so yummy!!! But I also had a lot of fun to decorate the 'Best nut cookies in the world' with chocolate.

The whole session took us about 5 hours and we all got pretty tired from it. Not only tired also hungry and longing for something salty as we were munching cookies all afternoon..'Just to try..' Lucky we had Julien cooking scallops in lobster bisque and wild rice for us. That was a delicious and well deserved finish of that day. After that weekend, I fell tired as hell into bed, you can believe me!

Find the cookie picture here on my digital photoalbum:

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Clubbing in New York - 4 years of Pacha with Erick Morillo&Steve Angello

One party at the weekend is not enough...just recovered from the "Ballermann party" the day before and back from a funny road trip with Tyra (trying to visit the Christmas market in Bethlehem... - no comment), I had to get ready for our next party event: Going to Pacha in New York where Erick Morillo & Steve Angello were playing that night for the 4th anniversary of Pacha in NY.
Mona and Tim suggested this trip a few weeks beforea and I really liked the idea. The tickets were only $30 which was a pretty good deal as you had to pay for each of them around $100 at Thanksgiving weekend in Florida to see one of them djying.
Mona voluntered to be our DD (designated driver) for the night. We left my place around 7pm and arrived at NY around 9pm. It was time to eat something and far to early to enter the club. So we found a nice dinner and got prepared for the night.

The club was packed and everyone was excited. I cannot describe the atmosphere there, it was so much fun!

We left the club at 4 in the morning. It was so funny because as soon as we left NY City, all the 3 of in the back seat fell asleep immediately while heroic Tim fighted his tiredness and tried to stay awake to entertain Mona while she was driving. I felt so bad for her but I could not stay awake, so hard I tried. The way to the club from my place to Pacha is about 2hours and many people would say that it is not worth to go such a long way for a party night. But first we don't that every week and second, it was again..all worth it!!!

Just watch the pictures and videos on my digital photoalbum:

Friday, December 11, 2009

Watchi's & Albi's Farewell party

Summer feeling in December: Watchi and Albi, our next leavers decided to bring the summer back to town...or to be more detailed: Celebrating a 'Ballermann' party as their farewell. The first big challenge was to explain this to our American domestic interns so that they got an idea how to dress. The most agreed description was:"Dress like in the summer when you go out along the beachside and behave like an idiot...start by drinking sangria with a straw out of a bucket!" What was super cool about this party: Tyra came down to visit me! The absolute bad thing about this was the heavy traffic she hit on her way up here. She left work at 3pm to avoid the weekend commute traffic but she got stuck right in the middle. I called her from time to time and motivated her that google maps displayed fluent traffic for the next 50 miles...:-/ It took her 5 hours in total which absolutely insane and we both decided not to visit each other on a Friday night again. But then she was here and ready to go to the 'Beach'.

Watchi and Albi designed our party location very well, especially the heaters produced a nice temperature in the middle 20°C which alowed us to wear summer clothes. As we have a bunch of interns who are not from Germany and cannot understand German, we couldn't play the whole range of the typical 'Ballermann' songs. I would say the most favourite song of this night was the Macarena song: Everyone knew how to dance it at the end of the night. But also, as the Sangria came to its end, more and more German songs had been played and everyone who is not familiar with songs like "Das rote Pferd" or "Cowboy und Indianer"and their dances, looked at us as we were insane...But it was a very funny party for everyone!

You can watch the bes pictures on my digital photoalbum:

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Icehockey - Flyers vs. Islanders

There are still so many trips or events on my 'I-wanna-see-or-have-to-do-list' even though I made quite a lot of trips the last weeks...One event was watching an icehockey game. It was absolutely surprising that my boss offered me two tickets for the Flyers (Philly's team) game against the New York Islanders on December 8. I saked Mona if she would like to join me and she directly in. So we left work together and went to the Wachovia Center (similar to our 'K├Âlnarena'). When we arrived, the game was already on but this doesn't really matter as the game ususally 2-3 hours because of all the breaks. Some of the other Siemens interns went to a game the week before we went and they saw them lose. Mona and I were lucky: The Flyers won the first time after 5 losses in a row. They scored 6:2, so we were cheering a lot.

Even though it seems like everyone is waiting for the players to fight (like they did last week...), the whole atmosphere is gross: All the music intros and the actions in the breaks like the 'Mites on Ice' (little kids in the age about 3-6) playing a little game.

They were soooo cute, they cannot even walk and it looks so funny when they scate on the ice. What I also really like is the organ playing all these tunes during the game. Like u know it from the movies. But also in this week they had a little fight going on but that not really serious. I placed the video on my photoalbum...:-)

Here are all the pictures on my digital photoalbum:

Friday, December 04, 2009

Weekend in Texas: San Antonio mit Mona & Tim

On the road again! Just back fromt the New Orleans trip on Sunday, on Friday it was time to leave the state again. This time the destination was San Antonio in Texas. It is about 4 hours flight time away from Philly.

Mona's husband Tim had to attend a tradeshow in San Antonio for the whole weekend. As the hotel was paid by the company anyway and had two queensize beds, Tim suggested that we should come as we just had to pay the flight...No big deal, the ticket was just $180 return....BARGAIN!!!
Mona and me left work on Friday at 3pm for the airport. We didn't have a direct flight, so we flew from Philly up to Chicago and then down to San Antonio. Quite tired and exhausted, we arrived there around11.30pm and Tim was picked us up from the airport. We stayed at the Marriott at the Riverwalk and the view from the balkony was amazing.
The next morning, Mona and me slept long, while Tim had to work at the show. Before we left the hotel, we grabbed a coffee from Starbucks and off we went to find a nice spot for breaky or we better say lunch...
We took the next stairs down to the Riverwalk where all the bars, restaurants and shops are. It looks so beautiful! And it is still so green because of all the palm trees and cypresses and tropical plants. We found a nice place to eat along the river. The weather was perfect, sunshine and clear sky but unsusual cold for this region, around 3°C. But it was perfect to stroll along the Riverwalk and explore the City.

San Antonio is very close to the Mexican Border, so you can see already a lot of Mexican influence in the architecture and also in the shops. They also have a Mexican market which is very colorful and where they also performed traditional Mexican dances when we went there.
It was coincidence that exactly at this day, there was a German x-mas market going on....No question: Mona and me went down there!! After my disappointing experience last year in England with "big European x-mas market" I didn't expect that much which was exactly the right attitude. The market was organised by the German community in San Antonio and they had around 20 booths but some of them really with German products like fruit cake, homemade x-mas cookies or selfmade mulled wine. Of course, we had to try the mulled wine and it was really good!!! We also bought some Santa Clause hats and put them on for the rest of the day.

Then we went back to the hotel and chilled at the pool and in the whirlpool while we were waiting for Tim.
In the evening we went for dinner with Tim's team members to a Mexican restaurant. That was so nice and soooo colorful! The food was good, the Margherita's as well and from time to time, a Mexican band came in to sing some songs.
After that, most of the colleagues went to the hotel but 2 went with Mona, Tim and me wanted to stroll along the river during the night as it looked so romantic during the night. The decorated all the trees with holiday lights and set up 'luminarias' along the river. 'Luminarias' are little paper bags, filled with sand and a candle in it. There were tons of them...

Then, we went to a bar Tim recommend before. It is called 'Howl at the moon' and there exist a few of these bars in America. They have 2 pianos, drums, a guitar and a bass guitar on the stage and people perform all the famous songs in a very broad range. They play everything from the 70's to today, Bon Jovi, Britney Spears, Uncle Cracker, Village People, The Killers.....and so on...All is live and the interesting thing is that they switch instruments with the blink of an eye. For the one song, the girl was singing and playing the piano, for the next song, she jumps behind the drums. This makes it very interesting and they just played soooo good! The whole bar was rocking!!

As we had such a great night, Mona and me slept in again the next morning while Tim again had to get up earlier..hihihi
We grabbed a coffee at Starbuck's again (it was so practical, there was a shop in our hotel lobby) and hopped on one of the Riverwalk cruise boats to make a river tour around San Antonio.

Afterwards we met Tim for dinner in the 'Rainforrest cafe' and had our breaky/lunch there. In this restaurant, everything is decorated like in the rainforrest and they have animated animals which start to make noises and movements at certain times. More for kids but still an interesting experience.
After the dinner, Tim went back to the show and we strolled around the shopping mall to buy accessories for the upcoming farewell party of Watchi and Albi next weekend.
At 4pm it was time to return to the hotel, pack and getting ready for the airport. Tim brought us to airport at 5pm. Again we didn't have a direct flight, so we flew from San Antonio to Dallas and then connected to Philly. We were so lucky on the second flight as we had 3 seats for the 2 of us, so we could make us bit more comfy and try to sleep. Finally, we arrived in Philly at 1 and returned to Mona's appartment at 1.30am in the night.
This weekend was very short but we had such a brilliant time together and the city is defintily recommendable!!! So again, all worth it!

You can find more pictures on my digital photoalbum: