Monday, 13 December 2010

Beer! Beer! Beer! A belated Oktoberfest report

The picture says it all really
Back in September we attended the 200th Oktoberfest in München, the boys all dressed in black Gisborne Gold t-shirts, eager for Mass upon Mass of Bavarian beer, and the women wondering how their lives had reached such nadirs.  I’m happy to report that the boys did indeed have their wishes come true, and that it wasn’t so bad for those less keen on the beer.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

On beer, mulled wine, and why never the twain should meet.

Mmmm...smoky smoked beer
Bamberg is famous for a number of reasons, one of which is the smoked beer, or Rauchbier as it is called in Deutsch.  Interesting drop, the aroma (smoky funnily enough) slaps you from about half a metre away, and the taste is a surprisingly intriguing and pleasing combination of smoke, hops, ashtrays and treacle.  The beer is pretty full on though, so although a single glass (500 mL) is an absolute must if you’re ever in the city, ordering a second may not be such a sound investment.  And while Bamberg smoked beer is worth the effort, their Christmas Bierpunsch is a very different beast…

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Adventures in new cooking - Salsify

Photo courtesy of
One of the coolest things about living in a different country is attempting to cook with ingredients you've never seen before.  Last week the local markets had salsify on offer, also known (to whom I'm not sure) as poor man's asparagus. Here in Germany they call it Schwarzwurtzel (black root).

Sunday, 31 October 2010

'10: A Vintage Year for Pop Music

It feels like there must be an article in the media at least once a week predicting (or even lamenting) the death of the (pop) music industry, and in-between, the music press is stuffed full of impending reunions of once deservedly forgotten bands from the 1970s, 80s and 90s.  It would be easy then to assume that “Over is the new It”, to paraphrase Gary Trudeau, but the reality is that, in 2010 at least, there have been some very very good pieces of pop art released, and the year has yet just under a quarter to run. 


Strolling along the ancient boulevard
Day two of our first Italian trip was spent in Verona, made super famous by one Bill Shakespeare, but deserving of a grand reputation in its own right.  Some quick facts first,Verona has a population of something over 260 000 (more than 700 000 in the greater area), was founded sometime before 550 BCE, and now holds UNESCO World Heritage status.  Having such status used to really impress us, but like medieval churches, it doesn't seem quite as special when places with Heritage Status appear to be about a dime a dozen in our part of Europe.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

London calling

At the beginning of August we popped over to London for a long weekend to catch up with friends (and take in some of London, since neither of us have ever been before). Thanks to our wonderfully crazy (but marvelous) friends Dave and Ginny we didn't have to contend with public transport from Stansted Airport, but due to road works on the Blackpool tunnel, the trip took over an hour!


Three things I’ve learnt lately…

One: Punctuation is important

Monday, 18 October 2010

New Zealand is not a nanny-state...

..Or at the very least, we've got a whiles to go.  Don't believe me? Real questions from the theory test for a German driver’s license below the break.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Untapped markets in Aotearoa, part three: Federweiser

Ta da!
Take some freshly pressed grape juice, add some yeast, and what do you get?  Federweiser!

Venice, it's just like being in Pauanui...

See, just like Pauanui ('cause you know, canals and stuff)
As we head back to Bayreuth after any excursion, on the sometimes nice, sometimes run-down, train from Nürnberg to Bayreuth, sitting with a squirming Matilda (or beside Sara struggling with a squirming Matilda), I spend my thoughts on plotting my next blog post.  These intended posts are not only beautifully written, riotously funny and remarkably insightful, but they're written as soon as I get back to Bayreuth.  Clearly, the reality is somewhat different (just the one post in September?  So pathetic).

Monday, 6 September 2010

Taste Tests - Episode Two: The Equus Edition

Admittedly carpaccio is a wonderful dish, but where's the challenge?
In Verona, when treated to the generosity of winemakers (many, many, many thanks again Alana and Matt), less adventurous people dine on duck and carpaccio of beef.  I, on the other hand, prefer to engage in more educational type pursuits...

Sunday, 22 August 2010


Ampfelmann again
I (Sara) have decided to make a start on this blog, because Nat doesn't know where to start. Understandable, because Berlin has been our favourite city so far, but I figured I'd make a go at it and he can finish up - now that it is all finished, you get to play who wrote what.  Oh what fun!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Girls' trip to Dresden

Manhole covers - The "Dresden"
I have to write this blog since Nat didn't come to Dresden with us.  Back in July, the Under 20's Womens Football World Cup was held in Germany. Since NZ made the cut, and a friend was the assistant couch, naturally a trip was in order. Matilda and I travelled up to Dresden with our Bayreuth friend Jeanne and her 2 kids and met up with Paul's (assistant couch) Mum and Catherine, who had come over from the UK. 

Beautiful Bayreuth - Part Two of Two

Through the rock gardens
It took a while to get going on the Sunday following the Eremitage festival.  Our sluggishness was, in part, due to our relatively late night, which created a very sleepy daughter, but also because the day had one of those lazy day feels to it.  So, despite initial plans to get going much earlier, we headed west of Bayreuth in the late morning to the Margravial rock gardens of Sanspareil.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Beautiful Bayreuth - Part One of Two

We had a blast over the weekend, courtesy of a visit by our friends Nikolai and Carla, currently based in the UK.  Blessed be their BMW 318d, which gave us an opportunity to get places we'd otherwise not got the Eremitage (which is actually eminently get-to-able).

Sunday, 4 July 2010


Way back in May, we took advantage of the quite wonderful Bayreuth Universität Welcome Centre's offer of a guided trip to Coburg, a small town overlooked by a fabulous and grand Castle.  Coburg is also the home of the Coburger sausage, one of the nation's top wursts in my opinion.

Friday, 18 June 2010

And on an unrelated note…

This blog was always meant to be as much about me trying to improve my writing, and as recent emails appear to have fallen into a postcard-stylistic trap, it’s about time I starting writing on this thing with a little more regularity. Seeing as how we’re not travelling so much, now that we’ve settled in Bayreuth, it means I need a new topic or two (although we do head to Berlin this weekend). Beer, science and other things should thus eventuate, but today’s theme is music; some thoughts on a few albums I’m really digging at the moment.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Bayreuth, an introduction

From the Hofgarten to the Wagner Museum
While I have been in Bayreuth now for more than five weeks, I have only got a very superficial feeling for the city so far. In part because I am working, which means my weekdays are spent at the University, but also because since Sara arrived I think we've only spent a single weekend here.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

It's been a while, let's talk pork (briefly)...

...setting up in Bayreuth has proven an interesting exercise, not so much because it's been hard (because for the most part it hasn't), but just because the transition from being alone with little to no responsibility, to suddenly once again being a husband and a father has been a real shock to the system. That's my excuse anyway, and for now I'm sticking to it.

I plan to post a few things this week, but I thought I'd lead off with this, the answer to New Zealand Pork's problem of what to do with all them pigs legs:

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Köln; a brief description.

The city Christchurch wants to be when it grows up?
I went to Köln expecting to be greeted by a wife, a daughter and a dear friend, but instead came away as alone as I'd started. Thankfully though, Köln's the type of place that treats you right even when you feel like everything is totally plain wrong.

Iceland. Who would've thought such an isolated place could have such an impact on the world?

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Taste tests - Episode one: A Katusfeige and Hefeweisen Mix

It's a real pity I didn't think of this before I accidentally ordered a massive bowl of tripe (with roast potatoes thankfully) at one of the local restaurants. Still, with any luck this'll be the first of many New! Amazing! Mindblowing! Taste experiences:

Apologies for the echoes. My room was not designed with acoustics (or comfort for that matter) in mind.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Notes on a foreign language (Part 1 of a few)...

Would Herr Goethe be impressed? I suspect not.
First, it has to be said that I suspect I'm not destined to become the world's greatest polyglot. To put it bluntly, I'm finding this whole "learn a new language" thing rather hard. However, I have only been in the country for six weeks, and therefore perhaps my aspirations should be set a little lower than I-will-be-fluent-in-two-months.

I think my biggest problem actually isn't so much the language though, rather too many years in academic institutions has me rendered unable to engage in, for want of a better term, naive learning. Let me explain...

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Surfing in München....

....not me (obviously), but still pretty cool eh?

This is footage (taken by me, naturally) of a guy surfing on the Eisbach, a standing wave on a constructed river that runs through München's Englisher Garten. I could've watched folk here for hours.

Michael Jackson syndrome

On Good Friday I was treated to a trip to the Chiemsee, a large and picturesque lake about an hour's drive east of München (thanks again to Dan and Doris (and Karla and Chico)). Apart from being a place of recreation, the Chimsee's most significant claim to fame is Ludwig II's third (and incomplete) palace.

Approaching the island on which the Herrenchiemsee was built (by ferry)

Monday, 15 March 2010

Schwäbisch Hall

Two weeks in, and my blogging process has been not been the most frantic. Maybe I can blame it on the small town? Schwäbisch Hall is best described as quaint, in a good way, but it is sleepy, and I'll (for now) blame its sleepiness for my lack of motivation.

Monday, 8 March 2010


It's a beautiful thing....

(Taken from the window of my room)

On arrival (notes on Stuttgart)

Blog post number two...

Before I forget, Lufthansa? Not so bad actually. It helps if you're dead tired for sure, and being exhausted from too many movies on the first flight certainly ensured that (Fantastic Mr Fox - sehr gut, Up In the Air - es geht, and An Education - sehr gut). Notice the Deutsch in that last sentance? It's about all I'm up to (more on that in another post). The food on Air New Zealand is certainly better, and there's more leg room, but Lufthansa had one great saving grace, hot towels - oh how I loves 'em.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Alrighty then...

Okay, here it is, the virtual spot where we'll be doing most reporting on and from Europe. Why the blog? It's mostly for me [Nat], but it also eliminates a good chunk of the mass reply-all conservations that may block up folks' email accounts. That's the plan anyways.....

PS I've heard bad things about Lufthansa, but can it be worse than flying U.S. Air Force? Time will tell.