Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mother's Day! and Outings

Sitting under the wisteria tree attached to the building

We went out with Christoph on May 1st, Labour Day here and a holiday. He had a tour to do in the morning so booked a table for 2 pm for lunch at a restaurant in Staufen that shall remain nameless this time. We’ve been there before but the service was truly awful today. They didn’t give me the right meal, they didn’t give Christoph the right meal either! We sent them back and waited for the correct ones.

Yes folks, the white on the strawberries is salt, nice presentation though.

Salt was on Christoph’s desert strawberries, (how does that happen?!) a mistake they rectified, we waited ages for coffee. Food is good when you get it though and presentation is lovely, just today was not a good one service wise.

There was a brass band playing throughout lunch which was very good, just limited conversation a bit. Music played was much like what the Canadian Brass plays if you are familiar with them, good quality music. Very enjoyable outing! The fields are covered with spargel/white asparagus nets like long white worms. The strawberries have mostly been picked now, it’s a very pretty time of year with flowering trees also, we sat under masses of flowering wisteria, beautiful!

On the way back Christoph told me about a stork in one of the villages who steals socks off washing lines to line his nest, his name is Hansi and because stork nests can weigh up to 1000 pounds which would damage a rooftop they took his down. Many build platforms for the storks to nest on, but when they took Hansi’s down they found 60 unmatched socks in it! Here’s another little tidbit you may not know, Germans always wear socks, even with sandals, so I suppose we could consider Hansi a real German. Cute story, and true, it made the local newspaper.

Bird watching...

I truly believe we have birds that visit Lexi, tonight one brought her a worm, but they do visit and she talks to them. This is a common blackbird from this area, tail goes up when it chirps.

Into the Kaiserstuhl with Christoph on Tuesday, he is teaching in Strasbourg, France and it is a national holiday there on Tuesday May 8. He likes Strasbourg but it is an hour and half drive each way. We ate spargel/asparagus at the Krone, always good there, a bit expensive, but good.

Olives on the tree.

Then went to Landerer for wine, I think this is our fifth year. They employ Polish workers they like and trust but the season has started early this year and they are not available yet so lots of vine trimming needed to be done by the family. 

Bruce found a recipe for Swedish meatballs so we bought all the ingredients and planned to make them up on Ascension Day, a national holiday, May 10. Woke up to heavy rain, so what better thing to do - cook. Except dumb me didn’t think and I hard boiled the eggs we had. Now what?, everything is closed for the holiday. So I tram to a nearby bakery that serves breakfast and using the translator on my phone, ask to buy a couple of raw eggs from them, probably one of the more unusual requests they’ve had but they did for 80 cents! Now I can cook, Swedish meatballs here we come!

Admittedly I’ve never made meatballs before, and won’t again, fiddly buggers, decided after this lot I’m better with casseroles or one pot dishes. Anyway, they did turn out well, definitely not low fat, but tasty. The best Swedish meatballs, recipe critic, thank you, and Bruce loves it! If you want the recipe, let me know.

Happy Mother's Day to those that are! Cheers, Bx2 & Lexi Cat

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

It's May!

Sign at the Irish Merchant Pub in Sevilla

We flew Sevilla to Frankfurt, dull flight which is good these days, reminder to self to use media options or just take a novel. Overnight in the same hotel we use and the desk clerk recognizes us as does the bartender and he even remembers that we come in twice a year and like the chicken wings, which of course we order. He also makes a mean gin and tonic which Bruce has. 

Back to the train station, housed in the airport and we are ridiculously too early so spend time outside smoking and drinking water and coke. On board we met a fellow from Finland, a Laplander and a Sami from the north, and his wife, he had a hand held wheelchair which he walked along. We had been sitting with a lad, but this man booted him out of the wheelchair section and made room for the four of us to sit. They travel with a very lovely dog named Mikita, funny we got the name of the dog and not them. I came back from the dining car where they no longer have our fav sandwich, with a beer to share, to find the dog laid out happily on the sheepskin and wooden scarf that had been in their basket. Anyway, conversation with them made the journey feel faster. They got on at Offenburg and off in Freiburg to specifically go to Ikea. Well why not? 
Came home to this carpet of dandelions!
Christoph took us to Ikea after a Black Forest tapas lunch at Gasthausblume, we were there, at Ikea, specifically for another sheepskin for Bruce’s hips. Bruce found out it would take an hour by various modes of transport and only 10 minutes by car, made sense to hire Christoph. I warned Christoph I wanted to get in and out as soon as possible. He was surprised though when that’s exactly what we did. I weaved and dodged through the crowd to get to and return to cash with determination to make this trip as short as possible. As a kid, I got really good at dodging crowds, applied today, haven’t forgotten the skill. I think Christoph had a bit of trouble following sometimes and certainly looked around more than I did. He said I was super unusual for a woman and told Bruce I was a “keeper” because I didn’t stop or waver to look at anything else.
This little image was on the side of an elevator shaft
 It’s been unseasonably hot here the last few days, we stopped for an ice cream on the way home, too hot to sit outside, that hot, then it cooled off and rained a few days.

Frank owns a shop on Rieselfeldallee, same street as where we live, he carries cigarettes, tram passes, has a copy machine and various paper and pen products. He’s a small fellow and very friendly, has good English so we always chat when going in. There is a lady who lives in Rieselfeld that has a service dog, her affliction is not visible but we talked to her at length probably a couple of years ago now. You’ll wonder where I’m going with this… Well they are together Frank and Ina and her dog Rosalie. I’m so happy for them both and they are going on vacation next week to Nice, France, both visibly excited about the trip. Romance in the air, I love it!

We went to Zoo Burkart as we do for Lexi things, new scratch pad (better than the couch!), food, new litter box, t.r.e.a.t.s. (written that way because she knows the word…) There was a sitting circle of kids and they had a couple of rabbits out for the kids to pet. After they were back in their cage, another one was running and jumping over them. More action than we’ve ever seen, maybe they smelled a bit funny due to interaction with the kids?
At the restaurant Suden, read on.
Also there...
We had a wonderful day meeting up with Adrienne, and Jeffrey and Jeffrey’s friend from Seattle Tonja for lunch at Suden in Vauban. Vauban is another green neighbourhood in Freiburg, often compared to ours, since they were built around the same time. The restaurant was lovely, we sat outside and the food was good, lots of vegan choices for Jeffrey and Adrienne. We both liked Tonja very much, her husband comes next week, she was here on a three month training contract. Her German is pretty fluent due to the contract, but we all spoke English. Anyway, lovely to see Jeffrey and Adrienne again and to meet another interesting person.

This weekend is the Spring Festival at the City nursery, we were going to go on Saturday but lunch trumped it so we’ll go tomorrow. It’s an interesting “fair” and changes a lot each year, this must be our fourth or fifth year in attendance. We saw Tonja there!

Augustina, our friend and cleaner came the same day and told us she is moving back to Ghana where she is from. She cannot find a job here after gaining her degree, does not speak German which for her would be a major stumbling block and we wondered about that. She would be able to in a larger city with headquarters for a bank or large corporation but that isn’t here. She said she is from a family of eight children and has a twin brother who initially came here with her but moved back about a year ago. We are sad to see her go, she is a lovely, young lady, very religious, not pushy about it, intelligent, but this is likely the best move for her and her career. She has recommended a friend, so has not left us in the lurch, we will talk to her on Monday. We seem to make friends with the people who help us out by cleaning our places. They are important people to us, especially to me, since Bruce doesn’t clean, never has. 
Not an everyday sight, she is riding down the path to the Mundenhof.
The cuckoos (real birds) are here and yes, they sound just like the clocks.
Storm a brewin'

Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Feria de Abril, Seville's April Fair

These ladies were kind enough to let me take their picture!

Feria de Abril, Sevilla’s April fair started today! It’s quite a fashion show. Before I get into that we sold our house in Madeira Park but I’ll do a separate post on that because there is a lot to learn from our experience.

The fashions change over years also, men’s not so much but details on women’s do. The accessories e.g. flower in the hair are just as important as the dress itself. 

We are moving back to Freiburg Tuesday of this week, our partners D & E are going back to a cold Ottawa. 

Here are the first pictures, shot today. There will likely be more.

He said Hola! 
Look at the heads of the horses, adorned as much as the ladies, almost.
In the short time we were out I saw more white dresses than other years.

I must get busy with packing but doing so as not obvious as possible, Lexi gets upset and hides herself. So I choose what goes and it gets thrown into the suitcase last minute. I'll be keeping my ears peeled for the clip clop of horses while doing so, camera around my neck.

Cheers Bx2 and Lexi Cat

Friday, March 30, 2018

Easter and Semana Santa

Happy Easter to you!!!!!

Easter lunch for us.
We are in the midst of Semana Santa week, third year of us being here for it. Honestly I am feeling sleep deprived and am on the verge of "break up" with the celebrations for next year. Many locals leave Sevilla during this time, it is not due to lack of respect for the enormous efforts, it's the major interruption in their daily lives.

Last year's post with a link to the previous year.

It’s Monday and the absolute craziness of Semana Santa has begun. We have thousands perched on the curbs outside our flat, as before. It’s a jovial crowd, with drinks and snacks, I’m just glad to be a viewer from above it, with a ready bathroom at hand. There are different levels of comfort during this week long celebration, some people have had tiered seats, bought or rented years ago to see the most famous procession. They are still squished in tiers for hours on end but do get to see the largest church and it’s most difficult entry/exit from it. 

Here in our neighbourhood it is a little easier, and the crowds more casual. Judging from todays crowds waiting to see the statues before they are paraded it is a large congregation, we even have a Nazareno in our building and I know who it is although he was in full uniform when I saw him today, pointed hat and robes. 

We were woken at 03:00 by a very loud brass band playing, a friend said they do that when they return from the main church, didn’t remember that before. Music was good but at 03:00 am I’m not as appreciative as I could be.

There are men underneath the paso or float, carrying it.
These are the men, called Costaleros, cushioned hats help with the weight of the paso. 
Top view of the palio, or canopy that covers the top of the statue of the Virgin Mary, sometimes it is covered in rose pedals.
Artsy, fartsy of it on the move.
Today it is Good Friday so we have three more days of celebrations, I think I might have to adopt the custom of siesta!

Happy Easter, hope the Easter bunny was good to you!

Cheers, Bev, Bruce and Lexi Cat, our own Easter bunny of a sort. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Are you wearing green? I am.

Happy Father's Day for tomorrow!

There was a display for Semana Santa (Easter) of processions that each church puts on over the week. Well done models I thought and certainly easier to see than waiting on the crowded streets for hours. 
This is all small scale!
Exact replica of the Museo, close to us, the detail!

With Dawna and Erwin’s visit we had to curtail both a Pepe’s family bodega tour and lunch with him and Angela and Ryan at a favourite restaurant, poor Dawna caught a flu bug. She was holed up in the apartment for a couple of days. Thankfully she felt better by Friday and we were able to visit again. We intended to go to their apartment across town but it poured rain and worse was windy. Bruce needed the umbrella but had difficulty holding it and dodging on the sidewalks with others in his chair. We got a couple of blocks out and decided this is a no go, asked D & E if they could taxi to our house. Dawna suggested we get a large cape for Bruce, hence no annoying umbrella. Taxi they did after Erwin found an app to install on his phone. We all didn’t know that taxi drivers are individuals here and they sign up on phone apps to get clients. Transport worked well for them and we had a nice visit. 

Christoph sent us the mail from Germany, means a bit of a hike to the post office so I decided to take the bus, mistake. I probably missed it by minutes, schedules are not clear, and then it stopped for some time at the next stop, apparently waiting for a regular passenger who was running for it. Good service for her, she apologized. Next stop was mine and he stopped a block sooner than expected. The route has changed, I’ll have to take it all the way around to find out how much. Plus since they cater to regulars it could change daily because some will just rap on the window to get off between stops. Which I could do as well I suppose. Walked back, nothing exciting. 

Christmas in March! We received a few cards from friends who do not read the blog and I write to over Christmas to stay in touch. Sadly my ex-mother-in-law passed away last year, such a lovely lady. She requested her daughter to write to those on her Christmas list to tell us of her passing which I think is a great idea. Long letter from our host in Brussels showing the feistiness that we love her for. The Christmas letter from my cousin who writes per family, i.e. her children and then parents write the highlights of the year including grandchildren and pets. Card from my cousins in Ireland and card from our friend in England who lost her husband last year, we met them in Heidelberg, she seems busy with grandchildren now. Bills, bills, bills for both Germany and Canada, not so welcome, mostly paid already but I do need to get a better handle on that, lazy me.

The orange blossoms are starting to bud, no smell yet but it will come soon, so lovely when it does! I know, you hear that every year.

We’ve made plans for the summer, finally. Considerations included London, Rennes in France, Brussels to see our friend Linda, and lots more, nice choice to have, and I appreciate it! Decided to work through Switzerland, moving every two weeks, Lausanne, Bern, Lucerne, Konstanz (Germany). All of these cities are on water so that's the theme and the plan for now.

We’ll be going hotels on this trip and must remember to bring my portable kettle and packets of coffee for those that do not provide, but a few provide free breakfast which could be anything from continental, a bun and jam, to full on eggs and bacon. More research to be done here.

I’ve been antsy about getting to LinoyFino but so far this week changes in plans have not allowed me to make it there. Example, Lexi bit us both one night, me on the leg which bled a lot (good, cats apparently have vile toxins in their mouth) but she bit Bruce on the hand. Next day the hand was swollen, he waited another day to see if it would go down but didn’t. When she bit me in the middle of the night I yelled at her Bitch! Woke Bruce up and she showed remorse by tapping my armpit after, in bed. As said, we cannot overstimulate this cat. It happened in Vienna too. We’ve read and experienced that a cat bite on the hand, while one would think, oh well, another scar, can become serious. We went to the clinic on the Alameda and no go there, they directed us to the Emergency in Triana. Pepe to the rescue once again, he picks us up to go there. We were lucky, not busy and in and out in about 45 minutes. Bruce gets a prescription for antibiotics as expected. The Doctor was actually looking it up on Google, Bruce could see her screen. They get dog bites but this is the first cat bite she’d encountered.

Thursday and to hell with diversions, I take the C5 bus to visit Yolanda at Linoyfino, Bruce is still sleeping so I get there and try on many linen tops. This year the colours are vibrant, not pastel as in years past. Yolanda speaks no English but I can understand most of what she says and she is a warm and friendly person. End result, purchase of six new linen tops, leaf green, Teal blue (my fav), lime green, white, dark blue and crimson, very pleased! You’ve read in previous years I shop for three basics, linen shirts (admittedly not so practical for travel wrinkle free but cool), T-shirts and jeans at stores in Freiburg.
Pretty colours!
Our good friend Omar from Amsterdam contacted us, he’s back in Croatia to visit family and friends after a very stressful time with his employer in Amsterdam. Such a gentle soul that got tromped on by the owner of the condo we stayed at there. We saw it happening to some degree and I wish now, at the end of our stay, I would have said something but doubt the man would have listened anyway. Well I’m a firm believer that the karma you sow, bad or good will come back at you. This man is owed some bad karma.

Acts of kindness, it’s been raining here a few days (weeks it seems). Anyway, Bruce was going down the street, umbrella on the bike but not in use and a lady took it out and put it over him. Another day Bruce was waiting outside in the rain for me to get the ramp and a lady held her umbrella over him while he waited. I am becoming a rain wuss! We were so used to it on the west (wet) coast, but not so much now. This town is not rain friendly, meaning the cobblestones are uneven and the water puddles between guaranteeing wet feet, drainage is pretty much nonexistent. Absolutely everyone uses umbrellas so walking on the sidewalk is an exercise in bobbing.

Cheers, Bev, Bruce and the brat Lexi Cat

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Feliz Dia Andalucia!

Happy Andalusia Day! From Wikipedia... "The Día de Andalucia ("Day of Andalusia" or "Andalusia Day") is celebrated February 28 and commemorates the February 28, 1980 referendum on the Statute of Autonomy of Andalusia, in which the Andalusian electorate voted for the statute that made Andalusia an autonomous community of Spain.[1]

The above link shows the area of community.

On the domestic front, Bruce received the tooth he’s been missing for almost a year, having a dentist here is good but instead of waiting three months, it was much longer (the three month wait is to ensure the post settles in). He says it feels weird and now he has no place to store olive pits…

On the way back we asked Pepe stop at Ikea to get Bruce a sheepskin to sleep on, weary bones at night, this should help. 
Lexi likes it!
Pepe buys much of his home furnishings from Ikea for the apartments he rents out so is very familiar with the store. He has a “family discount”, knows how to search for whatever on their computer kiosks that are information centres. Goes to the 50% off section to see if anything is useful. Pepe had in mind smallish things he wanted to get so we did, and a print of the ocean caught his eye so he bought that too. The store is certainly customer friendly, with self checkouts and a person to help when needed, although I’m sure they also check that everything brought through is accounted for, cynic I am.

I used to be familiar with the one in Richmond, BC, but this one is probably double the size. A little hint, is that upon entering the store you are directed to the show room, with kilometres of show space, but if you go with something specific in mind you can avoid all that and go directly to the warehouse to actually buy what you want. At Richmond the door was almost secretive, tucked away, here, it just means entering the exit. My Polish friend Danuta and I would often go to Ikea for lunch at their cafeteria, she ate the pickled fish and lingonberries she couldn't get elsewhere. Great memories!
People are doing a major renovation in and outside a building next door. I missed an opportunity to photograph to show you the plank over the pile of dirt, with another coming down the slope. Workmen are manoeuvring wheelbarrows up and down this steep narrow slope. Thought I’d get a chance returning but there were three workmen inside at that point and it didn’t feel right to take a photo.

Dawna and Erwin are here for a visit and darn it the weather has turned to cloud and rain today. They came here and we went over to the art market. I am able to ask the partner of Olivia with enough Spanish where is she, she's been MIA for a few weeks, she's gone to Thailand, and that’s about all I could understand. Talked to Liz again, the market wasn’t even half full due to closing of the streets for the annual Zurich marathon. 

Procession down our street to return the statue of Jesus to his resting place in the church, they had likely been restoring it before Semana Santa. The men carrying it do not walk underneath like they do in processions, they are at the four corners. 
Blurry but much less so than the next...
The white is caused by the swinging of lanterns, added "just because..."
There are many bands around our area now also, while D & E were visiting we could hear them. They must have been practicing so not sounding coordinated at all, just producing noise.

I took the next two pictures on our return from Triana, read on.

Fountain built to commemorate Spanish explorer Juan Sebastian del Cano at the end of Los Remedios bridge

Queen Maria's sewing box or basket, local legend that she spent time sewing in the building, it was actually built after her death. In Spanish, Costurero de la Reina
Bruce’s ears were plugged with wax so Pepe took us to a Doctor, recommended by Ryan, in Triana, the other side of Seville, across the river, where the residents call themselves Trianans first, Sevillanos second. Honestly I think it is quite an ugly neighbourhood but it does have some nice parks. It’s full of low rise apartment blocks covered in brick for the most part, but people who live there say there is a real sense of neighbourhood. Anyway got into Pepe’s car and it’s covered inside with confetti! 

He’d taken people on a bodega tour and coming back ran into a large parade from the carnival in Cadiz. They were stopped and people threw confetti into the car from the parade. Cheerful but messy!

All for now, Cheers, Bev, Bruce and Lexi Cat

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Happy Belated Valentine's Day!

Here is a post from a couple who "collect" images of hearts, in building design and everywhere in their travels. 

Bruce and I do not "celebrate" this day, we are more spontaneous about showing our love. We did buy Rocio a box of chocolates and card, last week was a tough one for her, personal reasons, so we wanted to cheer her up a bit.

We owed a rather urgent bill to a company in Germany. I don’t understand and have complained before about this. Bruce had some updates done to his wheelchair about a month before we left Freiburg, we did not receive the bill and he offered to pay it on the spot but no go. So they finally send the bill and expect payment immediately or maximum 15 days, what? We can hardly remember what the charge is for! 

Pepe came over to install the bathroom light, before he got here I unwrapped the one we bought to discover a large crack in the casing, darn it! So Pepe goes to the store, same one we were at earlier in the day and picks up another. We take the cracked one back and have some trouble with language, the clerk gets frustrated with us which is unusual, maybe because it was a Monday morning?

We’ve been craving king crab after our wonderful dinner of it in Amsterdam, but wondered if it was available here and it is! So we bought a mess of it, frozen and invited Angela, Ryan and Pepe for a feed. 

Pepe is cutting down the side of the legs for easier access, Thanks Pepe! Angela's photo.
And a feed it was, served with melted butter, lemon and garlic bread. 

Me checking temperature, we steamed them. Angela's photo.
I put out tomato and cucumber but they will now be a salad for me, everyone seemed to keep their appetites for the crab. Very messy meal but very tasty. A treat for everyone.

Ryan's photo, Ryan's plate
I’d put the packages in the fridge to thaw overnight and they leaked all over so had a fridge to clean out before they arrived of smelly sea water. Now I’m learning how to make bisque from the shells but first had to look up what is bisque anyway? Fancy name for soup really, but typically refers to a soup made from shellfish.  I think I’ll make a chowder instead.

Bruce has missed several dental appointments due to lack of energy and upset stomach so this last appointment he was feeling better and went. Pepe picked us up and drove us there to Espartinas where the office is. Lovely drive this time of year through very green fields and orchards of olive trees. Appointment didn’t take long and Pepe had an hour to spare so he took us to LinoyFino - yah! Finally got there, but she has no stock! I did get two men’s shirts and she said she’s bringing all the spring stock in beginning of March so you can bet I’ll be back, her name is Yolanda. The spring colours she showed me are great! I expect this will be a productive and expensive visit, which I look forward to! I was in and out in about 15 minutes, doesn’t take me long, not with two men in tow. 

We take Lexi to the vet for a pedicure and have to wait so we admire the other animals in the waiting room, a beagle and a pug. We get the vet this time, not her assistant and she does an inspection of Lexi, ears, teeth, whole body through, and then does her nails, Lexi hissed once but was otherwise okay. We really like this vet and her staff, they are friendly, capable and the office is close.

Bruce wanted "Swiss Chalet" sauce, which I don’t like, never have, but made it just for him (after procrastinating about a week in hopes he would forget, he didn't). We left out the vinegar, all-spice and ginger, mostly because we didn’t have them in the house. Surprise to me, it tasted really great with the chicken we bought pre-cooked. Made another run of broth from the carcass. P.S. Swiss Chalet, in case you don't know, is a Canadian chain of restaurants serving mainly chicken with their signature sauce.

Went up to the Setas (Metropol) market, had lunch prior to going into the market, but by the time we were done the market was closing and couldn’t find the root vegetables (turnip, parsnip, beets) we needed for borscht soup. We'll have to wait for borscht when we get back to Germany where the vegetables are more widely available. Who has heard of Spaniards eating borscht anyway? Definitely not a Spanish dish. Went to El Corte and found ingredients for mushroom soup instead, which I'd never made before but turned out tasty. I found this bit amusing from the recipe:

"Let the soup cool for a few minutes, then transfer to the blender and carefully blend at high speed until smooth. Do I have to remind you to do this in stages, with the blender's lid firmly held down, and with the weight of your body keeping that thing from flying off and allowing boiling hot mushroom purée to erupt all over your kitchen?"

From Reprinted with permission from Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain with José de Meirelles and Philippe Lajaunie. © 2004 Bloomsbury
Cheers, Bev, Bruce and Lexi Cat