Friday, February 28, 2014

March 2014 - Overview

Holidays (Federal or Bavaria specific)       

None! (well, not officially here in the area)

School holidays March 3-7, 2014 Spring Break

Not official holidays in Bavaria, however, March 3 and 4 are the big Fasching (or Carnival, Mardi Gras, etc.) celebrations for Rose Monday and Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday)- the last parties before Lent begins. See below for activities. This is also a good time to pick up items you might want for Halloween, as the selection is greater. 

March 5 Ash Wednesday

Events (by no means a complete list)

March 3 Rosenmontag Parade. This year's theme is Movie Stars! 
March 17 Murphy´s Law or Granny Mac´s Irish Pubs for St. Patrick´s Day
March 22-23 Erlangen Easter Egg Market- over 40 artists participating. 

March 2 Nuernberg Fasching Parade 
March 15 Nuernberg Sport Verein Spring Run(s) Choose from shorter runs for children, 5K        or 10K. Nordic Walking and Biking as well! Details here (in German)
March 14-16 The German Irish Friendship Circle is hosting St. Patrick´s Day weekend events (some events are in German, English, and Irish) Ticket prices €20 Friday with special guest Jonny Logan (of Eurovision fame in the 80´s and 90´s) €10 Saturday. 
March 15 Rockfabrik hosts a St. Patrick´s Day party with Kilkenny Knights 
March 17 Finnegan´s Irish Pub hosts a St. Patrick´s Day party
Ongoing until March Segway Indoor Parcours (suitable for adults and kids 7+)
     An obstacle course........... on Segway´s!

March 4 Shrove Tuesday celebrations on the marketplace 

March 2 Wuerzburg Fasching Parade - One of the largest in our area! Over 125 participating groups. FREE
March 2-4 Playmobil Funpark (Fuerth) has Fasching activities for children. 
March 7-9 Tulip and Wine Festival Wuerzburg because the only thing better than drinking wine is drinking wine with thousands of tulips around you! FREE
March 8-9 Franconian Gourmet Fair (Iphofen- 45 minutes from Nberg by train)- Local (Frankisch) gourmet food! Child care available. Note: This is also Open Sunday in Iphofen, stores will be open. 
March 30 Open Sunday Fuerth - corresponds with their Spring Festival as well (March 29-April 6)

Other things to do? 
Explore our area´s many bike paths! (For a Nürnberg map of bike paths, click here) For other cities, start with a google search of your city´s name and Fahrradweg). Maps are available in most book stores for under €5. 

Beer kellers and gardens that closed for the season begin to re-open! Try Forchheim´s famous Kellerwald (click here for map and description in German). It´s little less than 30 minutes train ride from Nberg Hbf and then a bit of a walk. 

Head out to a local soccer game. The season reopened end of February. Tip: For those with children with short attention spans, some clubs offer free admission for the second half. 

Kick-Fabrik - Nürnberg indoor soccer and mini-golf

Bowling (Google kegeln or bowling and your town´s name)

Visit an indoor pool or sauna- Atlantis is in Herzo, Nürnberg has many to choose from (link in    German), Bamberg has Bambados Can´t decide?  Schwimmbadcheck is an online review site for public pools, link is in English.


Produce availability in Germany is VERY seasonal. Want fresh asparagus right now? Not likely.
Want to know when to expect what (of locally grown produce)? Click here  This also includes information about when to plant what in this area of Germany.

Things to hoard stock up on now, as they are going away quickly!
Spring Onions

Things cropping up (pun intended) ;)
Fresh local spinach 
It´s not a vegetable or fruit, but it´s tulip season! 

What in the world is that?

Basically, just a carrot. Or Karotten, or Möhren, or Gelbe Rüben. These look especially pretty in salads, or, try a carrot fritter. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

What I love about living in..................Bamberg!

This is the first of a series of posts highlighting what it is like living in different towns/cities in the HENhaus area.

Specific questions about living in Bamberg? Email me at I'd be happy to help!

About Bamberg: Bamberg is located in Franconia, 63 km north of Nuremberg (45 minutes by train) and 101 km east of Würzburg (50 by train). It is situated on the Regnitz river, the inner city is surrounded by the left and right arms of it.
 Bamberg has seven hills, with a church on top of each. The city limits extend quite far, about 55 square km, or 34 square miles. Bamberg has about 70,000 residents, including approximately 3,000 at the US Army Base (this number is dwindling, and scheduled to close this year). The University has about 14,000 students. In 1993, Bamberg was named a UNESCO World Heritage City, most of the city was not harmed during the War.The UNESCO area comprises the episcopal town, the island town and the gardener's town (where I live) 

Name: Mandy Weis

Hometown: Montclair, NJ, USA
Age: not telling. Over 30. 
Family Status: Married, two step children, one cat. 
Occupation: Former HR Manager, now I guess you'd call me a Hausfrau or a student. I just finished my B1 German classes, and I have two more weeks of Orientation class to go! I volunteer at a homeless shelter (Menschen in Not) as well. 
What brought you to Germany?I met my (German) husband in 2010 while on a trip with my Dad.
How long have you been here?  We married in 2012 and I officially moved here in March 2013 after 3 years of going back and forth 90 days at a time.
How did you settle on Bamberg? My husband already lived here, and owned the house.
How easy is it to meet people? Other expats? I had a leg up meeting people, as my husband is the friendliest guy I know. He knows everyone. I met most of my "own" friends at our local brewery. I hate to encourage drinking, but becoming a regular at one or two bars or breweries helped my social life immensely. I've also become a regular at several shops in the area. When I have questions, and my husband isn't around, I can pop in and ask where to buy x or y, ask if I am saying something right, etc. I also lucked out as I have a lot of family in the area, and cousins I actually like to hang out with. I met most expats I know through organizations like HENhaus, Internations, or Chickhaus or by association (being introduced through friends).
Favorite things about living in Bamberg? There is so much to love about Bamberg. It's gorgeous (link to panoramic view). 
We have SOOO many things to do here. There is seemingly always a festival of some type. Stadt Marketing does an INCREDIBLE job here with the larger events (BA zaubert, Blues and Jazz Fest -for example) , and the local fests are seemingly never ending (Canalissimo, Gartner Fest, Kirchweihs, Sandkerwa). if you are always  bored on the weekend, you are doing something wrong.I love it´s size. Big enough to have distinct neighborhoods (Gartnerstadt,Wunderburg, Altstadt,for example each with their own personality), and loads of restaurants. Tripadvisor says 138, but there´s MANY more.  Big enough to have Karstadt, Douglas, Müller, etc. Yet, there are loads and loads of independent stores.
And groceriesAsian markets, Middle eastern markets, Rewe, Edeka, a few CityMarkts, Tegut, Norma, Aldi, a daily veggie markt in the city, a weekly bauern markt with meats, home made dairy products, etc, and guys like my veggie guy down the street .
I love that BA is big enough that you can always meet new people, but if I spend more than an hour or two in the city, I´ll run into someone I know.
I love our parks, the largest being the Hain and the new Erba park.......which is amazing. Just take a look. I love it, and LOVE that it´s a 10 minute walk there.
I love to run or bike down the river, to where the city meets the country and see horses and farms.
I love to drink a beer at the kiosk by the river.
I love the beer. :)
Kid friendly? School information? We don't have kids (though my husband has two older children from a previous marriage) so I can't speak too much about that. We do have some amazing playgrounds.
Playground in Erba Park
What do you do on the weekend? We love going to festivals- big, small, doesn't matter. We also go bike riding, or out to meet with friends. We eat out...... a lot.
Weeknight activities? Normally, a beer at the Faessla, or out to our local doener shop- we stay relatively close to home during the week in Winter. When the days get longer, we venture farther into town for dinner, or grill in the garden.
Surprises about the area?Bamberg is very Catholic. I was shocked at how on Good Friday the entire town appeared to be in mourning. I still get annoyed at how everything is closed on holidays and Sundays. 
The amount of things left outside (decorations, or in front of stores) that are not stolen. Bamberg is called "Freak City" because the fans "freak out" at basketball games. I was really quite scared to go to a public viewing because of that. It was the calmest "freaking out" I have ever seen. Noone so much as  bumped in to me. 

Any negatives about the area? Rents are high, due to demand. Apartments can also be hard to find. 
We can get a LOT of tourists. In 2011 we had the Landesgartenschau in the area (large gardening show) and it was brutal just getting around, especially on weekends. That said, we got a great new park out of it. When Viking River Cruises shows up, it is also rather crowded.
 I have little faith in the local hospital. I had a bad experience, and the reviews on line are pretty poor. If I were to fall ill, I'd go to Erlangen or Nuremberg. 
While I love festivals, there's one I don't like. No, I hate it. The Sandkerwa festival. Too young, too drunk, too crowded, too much puke, too few toilets, not fun. Our Christmas market is rather small, and tends to have the exact same vendors every year. Meh. 
Transportation? Do I need a car? IMHO, that would depend on where you live in Bamberg. We live less than a 10 minute walk to the city, supermarkets, etc. We utilize car sharing when we need a car (large shopping trips, traveling to areas without public transport), but most of the time we don't need one. Most of, or a large portion of, Bamberg's inner city is pedestrian zone anyway, so driving there is not recommended. I personally can't stand buses, but Bamberg has an extensive bus transport system. We also live about a 10 minute walk to the train station, and trains to Nberg and Wburg run quite often. Most of the time we walk, or go by bike.
Crime? I'm not going to say nothing ever happens in Bamberg, but violent crime is VERY uncommon. I have never not felt safe walking around Bamberg at any time of the day or night. Bikes do get stolen, however, frequently by the train station.
Doctors? There is no shortage of doctors in Bamberg. I'm rather happy with my general practitioner, and no less than thrilled with my dentist. Dr. Schaller rocks. I am not happy about the hospital, after my one experience there. 
Hairdresser? I go to a Paul Mitchell salon, Schranne 9. Kristine speaks perfect English. 
Spezial Keller view
Favorite spot for a beer? Faessla, or Spezial Keller in summer 
Café for a coffee? Cafe Mueller -just off the pedestrian zone. Really, any cafe on Ausstrasse is good. It's close to the University, so there are loads of student cafes. 
Favorite restaurants? Weissbier haus (for schauferla and wirsing), Kornblume, Piccola Roma (tiniest restaurant ever) for Italian
Place to watch a game? Lewinsky's 
Day trips? Bike trip to Pettstadt to ride the old fashioned ferry, huge fan of Wurzburg, Nurnberg is just 45 minutes away. Most of the time, there is something to do in town.
Clothing?  Honestly, I buy online, or when I am in the US (due to both price and styles I prefer)
Taste of home? We have a US Army base here, and I have been lucky enough to get some items from there. Real has an American section, and some items can be found at SubStop here (mayonnaise, mac and cheese). We have quite two especially good American restaurants (Mike's Diner, and Crazy Diner) within walking distance of our house. If I want to go to an English speaking bar/restaurant, we have the Irish Pub (recommended) or the Green Goose (not a favorite of mine), where Americans mostly from the Army  hang out. 
New in town? Check out Neu in Bamberg on Facebook (in German). They have compiled lists of recommended restaurants, doctors, gyms, etc. They also organize almost weekly events, and welcome newcomers of any German speaking ability. Bamigo is a great source of local events, as is Frankische Nacht, or Frankische Tag (newspaper).  The International Women's Club also has a Bamberg chapter, or check out the IWG. 
Other helpful hints for newcomers? Join a gym, or a verein (club). As mentioned before, become a regular somewhere. Most of all, get out. Invited somewhere you don't want to go? Go anyway. Whatever you liked doing in your home country, do it here. Go for walks in your new city. Buy a street map, and walk different ways to places you go often. See your city like a tourist. Check out Tripadvisor for ideas. 

Bagels! and more at Columbia Bakery, Fuerth

NOTE: As of March 2015, Columbia Bakery has sadly closed. 

One of the things I missed the most in Germany are bagels. Good ones.

THE BEST bagels I have found in Germany, hands down, can be found at Columbia Bakery in Fuerth. They are not made by the bakery, rather, imported from Hamburg. Varieties? Plain, Wheat, Cinnamon Raisin, Everything, among others.

Bagels aren't the only reason to go to Columbia Bakery, however.....and the rest of the menu is made in house.

Other reasons include:
Cupcakes (American style!)
Cookies (peanut butter, chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, you name it!)
Buttermilk Biscuits!
Corn Bread!

Take a look at their "Treats" Menu here. 

They offer lunch time specials, published every Tuesday on their Facebook page.

Their menu changes weekly and can include fruit salads, pastrami sandwiches, soups (their corn chowder is AMAZING), or even Jambalaya.

For Americans craving traditions, they do Superbowl themed cakes and cupcakes, and the past few years have offered a Thanksgiving dinner.

For those with specific dietary restrictions, they often have gluten free, and even vegan offerings.

The staff couldn't be nicer, or more accommodating, and all that I have encountered speak fluent English.
There is a cozy side room with plenty of seating. It's a family friendly business as well, children are often seen playing under tables.

Located at Kreuzstrasse 6 in Fuerth, it's less than a 5 minute walk from the Rathaus S Bahn stop.

All photos property Columbia Bakery and used with written permission.