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Monday, February 29, 2016

Supper Tonight At Zur Haxe - Prenzlauer Berg - Berlin

Pork and Sauerkraut

We just got back from a walk to Zur Haxe - one of the top 10 German restaurants of Berlin. It was in our neighborhood - less than a mile away - so we walked there - and took the tram back. The tram back was longer in length - but much shorter in time. 

I had some kind of chicken dinner - Lulu had pork and sauerkraut. We each had one beer. The bill came to 30 euros.
Wheat Beer - 2 euros a half liter

I had a Konig Ludwig Weissbier - 1/2 liter for 2 euros. In 2008 - it was selected the world's best wheat beer. 

Lulu had a red colored Berliner beer. 

Lux Haxe is a very nice quiet neighborhood restaurant. We will take guests there when they come to visit. 

Photos taken with an iPhone 5S.

Using Your American Cellphone in Germany

I am using a 2 year old iPhone 5S

Ever since Apple has introduced the iPhone - I have bought one faithfully every other year - I have stayed with ATT and bought their Unlimited Internet. I have never worried about using too many phone calls - too many texts - or too much web browsing. Lulu and I pay $140 a month total - and just enjoy the service. The Unlimited Internet allows us to watch our television from at home - anywhere in the world. I never had too choose between wifi or cellular service.

Other times we traveled abroad - we turned off our cellular service - and just used wifi hotspots like McDonalds for free. Since this time - we are going to be in Germany for 10 weeks - we decided to try a European plan.

This is the card I purchased for $25

Over here we pay for service a different way. In America - we always signed a 2 year contract with ATT. Each time they would give us a new iPhone - 3 - 4 - 4S - 5 - 5S - etc.

The first thing we had to do was go to ATT and have our iPhones unlocked. Lulu's iPhone was no problem because she had it over 2 years - her contract was done. I had 3 months to go so I had to do a song and dance to get ATT to release me from my contract.

Berlin - Apple Store and Tesla Store

Two of my favorite products are Apple Computers and Tesla Cars. To my surprise - they are next door neighbors in Berlin. They have fancy store on the main street downtown. 

Tesla S is the first "real" electric car capable of going 250 miles per charge and go really fast. How fast? A fast car - like a Corvette can do 0 to 60 in 5 seconds. The Tesla can do it in 2.9 seconds! It can do all this while being a full size family car - capable of hauling 7 people. 

The Tesla S costs around $100k. This year they are introducing an SUV - but it i expected to cost $130k. Next year - supposedly - they are introducing a compact car that will cost around $35k. That one intrigues me. At any rate - it is a different kind of company. Tesla sells cars directly from the company to the consumer - no dealers. Everything is lost price - take it or leave it. 

I have been in a Tesla S - and it is quite simply the nicest car I have seen. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

My Favorite Germany Food - So Far

They are called Mini-nachers

They go down way too easily

I love the pretzels - I like the beer - but the sausages really make me smile.

I found the above sausages at the Pennys Grocery Store - about 2 blocks from our apartment. A package of 10 weighs about a 1/2 pound and costs 1.29$. That is about 13 cents each.

They remind you of summer sausage. They taste like pepperoni but they are milder. They are like slim sims except they are thicker and longer. They are hooked together like old hot dogs. At any rate - I have eaten way too many of them. What is nice is they do not bother my belly :-)

To my sons - they remind me of that smokehouse pepperoni form New Hampshire - the strong odor - but they have a milder flavor. They might even be good for you.

Sunday Afternoon in the American Sector at the Allied Museum

This is a map of divided Berlin

It was a pretty and sunny 40 degree Sunday afternoon in Berlin - a great day to catch the Ring Line train over to the American sector and the Allied Museum.

Here is a brief overview of the strange history of the last 70 years of Germany. Germany lost World War II to England - France - USA - and Russia. Together - the victors were called the Allies. They beat  Japan - Italy - and Germany. Together those countries were called the Axis.

When the war ended - the Allies decided to divide Germany up into 4 zones to prevent it from starting another war. Each country got a share of Germany to watch over. The capital of Germany was Berlin - so in the deal Berlin was also divided into 4 pieces. Unfortunately Berlin was in the middle of the Russian zone of Germany.
This English Hastings plane was used to
haul 7 tons of coal at a time to Berlin.

During the famous Cold War - from 1945 to 1990 - Russia (The Soviet Union) quarantined off their sections of Germany and Berlin to keep their people from running away. In 1961 - a big wall was built right thru the city of Berlin - and the USA - France - and England sections blockaded from getting supplies from the rest of the world. Russia wanted to starve out the sections of Berlin and take them over. But the three countries chose to fly coal - food - and clothing into Berlin with an airlift of planes. It went on for a year - until Russia lifted the blockade.

This file cabinet contains the names of 10,000,000

In 1961 - Russia built the famous Berlin Wall to keep their people in. It stood from 1961 until 1990. In that year - Russian President Gorbachov took down the wall. The people of Germany rejoined into one country. Today - Germany is a free Democratic country - with the 4th biggest economy in the world.

The four sections of Berlin have been combined - but each section still has noticeable characteristics from the time of occupation.

Allied Museum

We took the Ring Train to the American Section. It seemed obviously better developed from the section we live in - old East Berlin. The Allied Museum seems to be on the grounds of an old American base. The housing seems nicer - the grounds a little better - the streets a little wider.

The Allied Museum covers the time from 1945 to 1990. It particularly pays attention to the time when we were vetting all the German people - to find out which ones were Nazis. They found a card catalog containing the names of 10,000,000 Nazis.  I guess your life took a turn for the worse if your name was on one of those cards.

Madonna Fitness Center - old West Berlin

This dress made of Nazi flag
Checkpoint Charlie - original gate into East Berlin

Lots of Flowers in Berlin

There are lots of little shops in Berlin - many carry flowers. They are so easy to pick up along the way. I am guessing they are from greenhouses in Holland. This bouquet of 10 cost 3.50$. 35 cents a flower does not seem bad - they last a long time.

The garnet and gold colors remind us of FSU.

Lulu Pleads The Fifth - Her Fifth Doctoral Grad - Amelia

Friday was a special day. One of the nicest things about being a Library Science professor at FSU - is helping students follow in your footsteps. Amelia defended her dissertation on Friday at FSU - and will graduate in May.

It takes years to get your doctor's degree - if you get a PhD - most of the time is spent writing a dissertation. Many students completed the course work - only to end up ABD - all but dissertation.

Even though Lulu - Amelia's advisor and sponsoring professor - was in Berlin for 3 months - it did not stop the process. On Friday - all the professors on the committee gathered to see Amelia defend her dissertation. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet - Lulu was able to chair the committee from Berlin. I got these two pictures of Lulu and Amelia on this very important day.

Lulu shortened her project here for the main attraction coming up. We will go home on April 28th in time for the FSU graduation where Lulu gets the honor of placing the hood over Amelia's head.

In WWII - a pilot became an ace after knocking down 5 planes.

Sony RX100 - Camera Died Again

Sony RX100 Camera - failed for the 4th time

I absolutely loved the pictures that came out of my Sony RX100 Camera. 3 years ago Lulu got it for me for Christmas - and it easily surpasses anything I had for pictures. It also took HD quality video.

But it has not been dependable. For a camera that cost $600 - I expected better service. What is nice about the camera besides the high quality pictures - is that it easily fit into my pants pocket. I used to walk around with the camera in the left pocket and my cellphone in the right. Some would say that is my problem - putting it in my pocket. Since my cellphone has a pouch on the back - I can carry my cards and money with the phone in one swoop.

This is the 4th time the camera failed. It is usually the same thing - the lens comes out and will not go in - and the viewer screen is just static. The first time Sony fixed it for free. Then I bought an extended warranty  - but the second time they refused to fix it because they said I damaged it. After buying a new sensor - my son Drew fixed it for me taking it all part following directions from the Net.  Now - 1/3 thru our German trip it fails.

I have pretty well given up on it.

I would buy a big SLR that takes great pictures - but alas I would never carry it around - it would be a waste. I am going to try to use my iPhone for the rest of this trip. See if you can notice the poorer quality pictures. When I get home - I plan to buy a new iPhone 6S Plus that has a better camera - then I will only have one thing in my pocket.

The picture above is taken with my iPhone 5S.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Watching Seminoles play Notre Dame in Berlin with Apple TV

FSU beat Notre Dame by 21 points. Notre Dame was ranked number 20 in the national before the game.

Apple TV is a little black box sold by Apple for $129. Wherever you are - you can hook it up to the Internet - by wire or wirelessly - and watch programming from back in the USA. We can use it to listen to our Sirius Radio or watch Netflix TV.

Do not get Apple  TV mixed up with Slingbox. A sling box is a device you put on your TV system back home - it sends your local TV programming (Tallahassee for us)  to our computer or phone. It allows us to watch anything that is on our TV back home - movies - games - news - network shows.

Watching both Apple TV and Slingbox cost nothing - you are using programming you pay for in the USA already.

We do get a full selection of TV programs  on the Berlin cable - but except for CNN World - they are in German. 

Charlottenburg Palace - Berlin

Yesterday Lulu and I visited the Charlottenburg Palace. It was the summer home of German and Prussian Kings and Queens for over 200 years. Today they do not have any royalty - so the palace has turned into a museum. 

I am not a big fan of Baroque and Rococo styles of art and architecture - but the place is beautiful and amazing. It is similar to the many royal homes we have seen in France and England. These folks really knew how to spend the peasants' money. 

It is very easy to get around Berlin - thanks to the buses - trams - trains - and subways. We have a monthly pass that covers all of those modes of transportation. Sometimes we use a cab - late at night or when we are in a rush to get some place - but that costs cash. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Groceries in Berlin

Board - about 1 pound - 55 euro cents

Grocery shopping is fun over here. We live in old East Berlin - not far from the wall. It is officially called Prenzlauer Berg. There are a lot of little shops - restaurants - etc - there is a bakery in the front of our building. 

You are dealing with different measurements for weight - volume - money. Weight is in kilograms and milligrams. Volume is in liters. Money is in Euros. Presently - 1 euros = $1.10 US. They do have coins for - 1 cent - 5 cents - 10 cents - 20 cents - 50 cents - 1.00 - 2.00. We have Euro bills in 5 - 10 - 20 50 - 100. The other day the university paid Lulu - to our surprise they handed her cash. It felt like she hit the lottery. 

I will list several groceries every now and then. The packaging is interesting. They use a lot less preservatives over here. That gives the food a good taste. I am not saying it is any better or worse than in America. 

One exception - beer. I do not like beer generally - but I drink it socially. I do like the buzz that it provides - but a 16 oz beer for me is a lot. Over here - beer tastes very good to me. By law they are limited to 3 ingredients - barley - hops - water or wheat - hops - water. No preservatives - so it does not last long. 

Coca Cola tastes different here. In America I drink gold can Coke - no sugar - no caffeine. Over here - Coke is made only with pure cane sugar. It is a different taste - like Coke tasted when I was a kid - before they started using corn syrup.  So I drink the sweet Coke over here. 

I weighed 221 when I came over here. We are doing lots of walking - but I fear all the good things I am eating. 
Pretzel - about 1/2 pound - 39 euro cents
Milk - about 1 quart - 55 euro cents

Free Range Eggs - 10 - 1.69 euros

Sausages - 1/3 pound - 1.29

English Theatre - Berlin


Last night Lulu took me to a theatre. She told me a play would be in English and be funny. The play was Nipple Jesus written by Nick Hornby. I did like a movie Fever Pitch written by him so I thought I would like the play.

We caught the M10 Tram from our place to the U8 Train. At the intersection of the two was a Subway Sandwich Shop. So we had a nice supper. Subway made your sandwich just like America - except when you went to pay you slipped your Euros in a slot and the machine gave you change - no handing money over to the person making the sandwich. I imagine that is very healthy.

After supper - we took the U8 train to the theatre. It is in an industrial area. The theatre only sat 70 people. We paid 15$ per seat - sit where you want. The place was full - we took seats in the second row - middle.

At about 8:10 the play started - it was one guy pretending he was a guard at an art museum. He was in charge of guarding a picture of Christ on the cross made up of small mosaic pictures of breast nipples. It was very funny - Lulu thought it was hilarious. But to be fair - as she led the crowd to a standing ovation - she had a big glass of wine in the lobby as we waited for the doors to open.

At 9:10 - the play was over - we beat the crowd of 70 to the train station and were home around 10 PM.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Germany - Here Is A Short Video Of Our Apartment In Berlin

Lulu and I are having a really nice time in Germany. Take a look at our apartment. Lulu found it on AirBnB. It is completely equipped for our stay including linens - dishes - cleaning supplies - even maid service once a week. It has cable TV - Internet - and a flat screen TV.