Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Typhoons in Shanghai and Starbucks in Germany- What Is Going On In the World!

Fortunately for Phil and I, we are still in Germany, and have therefore avoided any stress or difficulty associated with Shanghai's Typhoon Wipha (who names these things anyway). I will admit that I only found out about this typhoon the other morning. I have been blissfully unaware of the goings on in Shanghai for the last few weeks, and am happy to say, will remain that way for a couple more.

Phil will be done working here in Germany at the end of this week and we have decided to vacation through Europe for the week after. I spent the better part of Monday and Tuesday sitting in Starbucks in front of a computer trying to decide where we would go, map out our trip, and book hotels- all of which are very difficult when you have no particular leaning and very last minute planning. Ah to have such a stress- really, I am not complaining.

Starbucks in Germany is an interesting phenomenon. For those of you who took pause and gasped at the mention of me sitting in Starbucks in Europe, trust me, I know. I avoided said establishment for over a week. There were a few things that threw me into the arms of Starbucks in the end though.

First, I will say, Germans do beer very well. They do not however, do coffee well at all. In the U.S., I would go into a Starbucks for an OK cup of coffee. In China, I go into Starbucks when I want to feel a familiar western establishment. In Germany, I go into Starbucks for a good cup of coffee! Crazy, I know. So, that combined with the fact that all cafes are smoking and all Germans seem to smoke (sadly even pregnant ones), the smoke free Starbucks was a nice break from all of the carcinogens I had been inhaling. Armed with all of those reasons and a need to find Internet that was less than 10 euros an hour, I entered Starbucks, head held high, ordered a latte, a month of Internet, and sat down.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Loving the Fresh Air

Based on the title of my blog entry and the state of air quality in lovely Shanghai, you may be thinking to yourself, where is Jen? One of those fancy oxygen bars? Perhaps a hyperbaric chamber (I don't really know what that is, but I thought it sounded dramatic).

Well friends, Phil and I are in Germany right now. Phil is in training for work and I mooched along for the ride. After his training, we are extending the business trip into a few days of much needed vacation for ourselves.

We will be staying in Burscheid for two weeks, and then off to who knows where for the rest of the time. Upon arriving in Germany last night, we hopped into a car and took the open road from Frankfurt to Cologne. Phil was definitely enjoying being behind the wheel again after so long. The sky was blue and the trees were, well...there were trees! It made me realize how much I miss nature and how much I am rejuvenated by it.

Upon arriving at our quaint little bed and breakfast, (not to mention the only hotel in town), we nestled in for some much needed food. On one side of the little restaurant there were a group of elderly women playing a mean game of cards, and in some distant room, we could hear the local church choir practicing for the Sunday service (not something you will stumble across in Shanghai). All in all, it was the perfect start to our escape from the bustling life of Shanghai.

Well, I am off to explore the town!

Auf Wiedersehen!

P.S. Did I mention you can drink the water from the tap! Unbelievable.