The Hamel Happy Hour

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

National Hampoon's German Vacation Pt. 4 The Spa.

My bestie Shana and I had good bonding times at the Olympus spa in Washington...and after a little digging I found a lovely spa here that was only about an hour away, the only difference is that it was bigger and co-ed.   We weren't bothered to much by the idea and after spending a summer with the Europeans we're not phased by nudity.   Phil was a bit hesitant, but we told him it would be full of naked ladies.

We were wrong.

All sagging bits aside, we enjoyed the different saunas and going from the natural hot springs to the cold Irish Roman bath was surprisingly refreshing.   We also decided on a Rasul steam bath where we are seated in this beautiful mosaic room where the ceiling looks like stars and we apply different muds to different parts of our bodies and then hang out while steam is pumped in.  

The attendant warned us of the " abrupt " rain, but it was warm and wonderful and I will definitely be going back.

National Hampoon's German Vacation Pt. 3 The Castles.

I love  Bavaria, more importantly I love the Bavaria castles.   I think Ludwig of Bavaria was an amazing and misunderstood man and I for one appreciate his love of fairy tales, swans, and shiny things.

We decided on Linderhof first because it was closest to the resort, the weather was a bit cold, but we were treated to snow capped mountains at the palace.

Hello Mountains!

Lucky for us the weather improved after our castle tour and we were able to bask a bit in some German sunshine and watch the fountain.

But on to the next place.    Not a ton of people know about the Weis kirche (White Church) but it's getting more popular, they have just installed paid parking near the pilgrimage church.   I love this church because it's kind of in the middle of nowhere and looks pretty plan from the outside, and then it surprises you with views like this.

That's the gateway into heaven up near the top, and the whole church is painted/decorated in this Rococo Style, it's also still used for Sunday services and weddings. 

And now to my favorite place.   Neuschwanstein Castle, when we first got here someone told me I would be disappointed at the castle.   They can choke on it.   I was disappointed that I had to walk all the way up but it's always worth it.   

We stopped at the Aichen rest stop on the way home and Shana was impressed that not only can you get real food at the rest stops, but you can get pretty nice Alaskan Cod.

Monday, September 16, 2013

National Hampoon's German Vacation pt. 2 The Munich.

So I barely slept, usually I pass out in hotels but not this time.  The pillows are poopy, and there are lights outside.   AND NO ROULADENS.   I'm spoiled I know.  We finally pulled ourselves out of bed and into the breakfast buffet, which is the best kind of buffet.  

And then to Munich.  

After the horrors of driving through the city center we actually found a sweet park spot right next to one of the city gates, and the Erotic Kino.   Nice.   We passed the Hofbrauhaus and started in the new Rathaus.  As it turns out you can go to the top of the tower  and get a great view of Munich.  You can also see sweet graffiti on the tower interior.   My favorite was "Derek is Sex," and "Aslan"  We were able to get out in enough time to stand in the rain for 15 minutes and then see the Glockenspiel go's a little bit spooky, like haunted carnival music.   We then headed to the Frauenkirche, and unfortunately the little alcoves with the paintings were mostly closed, and the one that was open I tried to light a candle while someone was praying ... and dropped my change in the silent echo-y prayer alcove like a jerk.

We had to run back to the car to pay for more parking and we went to the market.   We all concluded that a ripe fig feels like testicles, much giggling ensued.   We found a yellow fruit I've never seen before, we'll eat it tomorrow.  

And then we went to Dachau...learned a bit more than I did last visit, but after a while it really gets to be emotionally draining.

After the emotional draining we decided it was hot tub first when we got to the resort.   Hot tub, hot tub then food, and it turns out the drink bringer, the waiter, the people next to us, all from Seattle.   When our bellies were full...more hot tub, because I deserve it.

It was a good day.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

National Hampoon's German Vacation Pt.1

I'm not going to go into the details of my long hiatus, but I think I have my second wind so to speak.     To kick of my welcome back to the internet I present to you the chronicles of our vacation with our best friend Shana.    

I've been stressing out hard for week about my apartment and then I stayed up way late talking to my sister on the Skype...but it wouldn't have mattered because I didn't sleep anyway.  And then I was scatter brained all morning.   I visited my first international airport, I dunno if all of them are like this but the Frankfurt airport is super chill, it could be because it's Sunday and the Germans aren't too hip with anything besides church and relaxing on Sunday but there wasn't a security check point to go through so we got to go right to the gate.   And then I got to hug my friend that I haven't seen in a year and I totally cried.   Full on sobbed.

Everything would have gone swimmingly but ALL OF GERMANY IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION!   The Stau added almost two hours to our drive time, but the thing of it is no one is working today so I was thoroughly confused as to why there was such bad traffic, and that was until I saw the French stationwagon full of Djembes.   Trunk, back seat...stacked to the ceiling Djembes but Germany is a weird place sometimes.  

We finally got to the Edelweiss, after possibly driving through Austria a bit, we just happened to find the German Edelweiss first.   Silly.   The resort is fantastic and it looks like the Misty Mountains.   We had the hot tub to ourselves and we had the very best crazy pool races ever.  
Going to bed with Robin Hood on while playing poker.   Today was a good day.

Also Clif bar has a new thing called a "fruit rope" all natural, just fruit puree in a big wad of almost licorice.   I'm in love.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Munich and Dachau

    Oh my heck, I'm so sorry it's been so long, but I have had so so so many doctor's appointments over the past month.   Some weeks I have had three appointments.   Super not my favorite, but we should be pretty well done with that.

     First off Munich is sooooo beautiful. ( Only Northwesterners will really get this next part.)  Imagine Seattle, now imagine really large open pedestrian walking areas, now instead of St. James Cathedral add a beautiful castle at the city center, now imagine an open air Pike Place place, and then take away all the bums.  And now you have Munich.  Even before you get to the city and depending on which way you travel you get to drive through the Swabian Alps.   They look nothing like the Swiss Alps, they are shorter and look more like big rocky giants fell asleep long enough for trees to sprout.
 This happens to be the "old" City Hall.   

And this is a close up of "The Glockenspiel" It's a sort of cuckoo clock with life sized figures that rotate through, I think it takes 12 minutes for the full cycle, it's still really amazing to see even with the bird proof netting.

      There are several churches to visit, I was only able to get to the Frauenkirche (Church of the Women) It was a little bit like a free museum, there are monuments and tombs inside, and absolutely stunning paintings and icons inside.  Also in Munich is a replica Roman square, the Royal gardens and an Art Nouveau bath house, that is said to be like swimming nude in an art museum/gallery. I wasn't able to see any of that, because my time was so short in Munich.   Another thing is that Germans love and I mean LOVE Holidays and festivals, As soon as it gets warm you can usually find some sort of fest every weekend, and in Munich the Lederhosen and Dirndl are still worn to many events, it's pretty fantastic to see a whole group of old men come out of the beer house with Lederhosen on.

As you leave Munich you are very likely to pass one of the remaining city gates, complete with towers and stunning frescoes.

     The next portion of the trip was the Dachau Concentration camp memorial.   It's very important to remember that is a memorial to the people who lost their lives rather than the camp as it was.   I was expecting to have a much more difficult time with the camp, but it was much more peaceful than I could have ever expected.   I did choke up in the "SS" quarters, which is where a lot of the punishments were delivered.   The building itself keeps open doors and has several open windows, but there is a smell unlike anything I have ever experienced, it's not like decay or old book smell, it's almost a sour bitter smell through the whole building, and no where else in the camp.  Passing by the yard where prisoners were flogged and hung was overwhelming, but after leaving the building and seeing the rest of the camp I felt like such a good job was done to respect the dead here. It's not a beautiful memorial, it's very stark and cold but each faith has a chapel or synagogue on the grounds that is neatly kept. 

     Before I left I entered the room where the dead or soon to die were kept, I took off my shoes and socks stood barefoot in the room where so many people where cast aside, and instead of grief I was able to reflect on the thousands that lived...even if it was just to live long enough to know that they were free when the war had ended.   

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Worst...

First off if I offend anyone I am deeply sorry if your feelings are hurt, but this is an account of my own feelings and experiences.

 We started eating "Paleo" in January and it was great.  I didn't go into carb comas and I lost about a pound a week with somewhat moderate exercise.**  We plateaued in March, and it's probably, at least for me portion control. I would think, Well this is Paleo...I will consume all of it. And before you knew it there went two avocados and a half pound of bacon down the hatch.

     My husband bought a book called "Mastering the Life Plan.*"    The man on the cover is 74 years old and has the body of a Chippendale's dancer.  His hair is white and he is balding, you can see wrinkles in where wrinkles would be but the muscles underneath his skin are superb.  My husband was hooked.  It's definitely a book written for men, moreso men in their 40's and older but we figured might as well start now.

     My husband really grooved on it so I decided it would be less complicated in the kitchen if I just followed the eating plan as well.  So far so good on that front, I managed to pick back up on my losing a pound a week, but one thing the book suggests is to take a "before" picture that only you look at, to use as motivation.   I took mine yesterday.  It was horrible, I wanted to cry but I was so furious with self revulsion.

    And then I took my measurements.   Devastated.  Looking at the back of myself is revolting.  I can see all of the old stretchmarks and dimples.   Instead of being motivated, I'm just angry.   I'm angry that eating healthy feels like a punishment for being overweight.   I'm angry that this isn't just a goal, but an entire lifestyle change.  I'm angry that I hate going over to people's houses for dinner and agonizing about eating certain things.  But maybe that's the point, to be so disgusted with the "before" I never want to go back.

     I have lost 12 pounds since December, and I had to get a new smaller pair of jeans, but looking at that picture of myself was worse than giving up sugar and pasta combined.

* The book can be purchased here

** Moderate Exercise for me is 30 minutes of walking at 3.5 miles an hour at different inclines followed by some weightlifting or calisthenics and stretching.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Cochem...Late I Know.

     I am so sorry this is so late, but March was a busy month.   So for our anniversary my darling wonderful husband decided to take on the USO Cochem Castle and Dinner tour and I must say I was not disappointed.

     I know this isn't the best angle for the castle, but you are able to see the massive vineyard that surrounds the castle and provides the Riesling for dinners held at the castle.
     Our tour started inside the town of Cochem and we stopped at a mustard factory and tried 8 different "artisan" mustards, and then made our way to an Italian restaurant for lunch.   We had a bit of free time before the tour so we make sure that we make our way to the Catholic church in town, check the view of the Mosel river and find an Eis shop.

     After a bit of a hike we are treated to the beautiful grounds of Cochem, wrought iron dragon fences and coats of arms from various knights.   The tour starts and huge wooden doors open to let you into the courtyard.

     I didn't have enough time to take as many pictures as I wanted...but the details on this castle are breath-taking.   The wonderful thing about this castle is that is was completely renovated and restored in the 1800's, and while not authentically medieval it appealed to my sense of aesthetic.

     We are led down through the castle and we end up in a former chapel with pine table and benches.   We are seated and the Master of Ceremonies began to tell us about the knights of the castle and different customs as a boy carrying buckets of water and towels to each member of the tour group so we can wash our hands.
     We are first served bread and lard ( I know it sounds gross, but it's seasoned bacon bomb) followed by a nice hot broth.   While sipping our broth an honest-to-goodness minstrel plays for us.

     After many more stories, songs, and a pass around of a snuff box we get our feast.

     Now I'm no stranger to Ren. Faires...but this Turkey leg was so good, smoky and juicy and huge.   I know the meat is magical in this country, this leg ousted even the Bratwurst.   After dinner there is a Knight's Tournament between members of the tour group with a feat of strength, the ability to entertain the ladies, and of course a beer chug-a-thon, the winner was presented with a heraldry of his vast talents, the minstrel plays and we all dance and our wonderful evening comes to a close.   
  Both my husband and I really enjoyed this trip and hopefully we are lucky enough to take our folks when they come to visit.