May 092012
 
I told them to “pose like Americans” 😉

Festivities for All

Well, after all the stress of last week, it was about time to break loose and have some fun!  Granted, Fun is not always stress-free.  But, it does have the advantage of being… er… FUN!  So, without further ado, here are

Three Point Five Fun Things that Happened This Week!

First Up- DS’s 12 Birthday!

In Germany, the tradition is for the birthday celebrant
to provide small candies for his class.  So, DS here
is all ready to celebrate with a bag full of gummies!

DS receiving his presents in the morning

Dinner Guest!  

DS’s German tutor, Kerstin, happens to be an American from the Bay Area!  Too cool!  We had been meaning to have her to dinner for-evah, but one thing or another kept getting in the way.  We finally got all the pieces to fall in place this week.  Since she misses Mexican food, we did our best to accommodate her with Do It Yourself Burrito Bar dinner.

Festive Table- It was as Mexican as I could
manage given the circumstances….

Kerstin and DS

There was much silliness, dancing and loud laughing. 

We decided the entire event was decidedly Un-German in its conspicuous exuberance. 
Definitely nice to let loose a little from time to time!



Birthday Resumed….

Our Birthday tradition is that the Birthday Boy or Girl gets to pick the meals for the entire day.  Since DS had school on his actual birthday, we agreed to postpone his meal-picking until the weekend.  So, when Saturday came around he got us to take a trip to Strasbourg for sandwiches and croissants for lunch, then for dinner we tried out the American Tex-Mex restaurant in town called Coyote Cafe.  We had been warned that their Mexican fare may be a little less than authentic (thus the burrito bar at home!).  But, we figured the Texas BBQ was worth a shot.  And, it wasn’t bad!  It is certainly not going to be convincing any true Southerners that the chef has made a trip to the States.  But, it was passably pleasantly edible.

DS in the Coyote Cafe

Mexican decorations?  Interestingly, most of the
place seemed to festooned with black and white
photos of French people!

I was amused to note that this water is “naturally mild”…. As opposed to
all that spicy water you usually get in these parts!!

BBQ Spare ribs… with lots and lots of parsley… And a butter knife.
The fries were excellent!

Job Recruitment ad on the
bathroom door.

FRENCH FLASHMOB

Quick Anecdote- DS’s school was going to participate in a Flash Mob to celebrate Europe Day- sort of a European Union togetherness sort of deal.  Makes sense since Hogwarts is a European school dedicated to the ideology that Europeans ought to respect each other and get along. 
But, lets face it, when it comes right down to it, our particular branch of Hogwarts is run by French People.  And French People, as we have learned through experience, have some interesting concepts about organization.  One of them was that for this entire school field-trip, each student must individually procure his or her own Tram Pass for the day (‘NO MONEY!’ read the email).  Additionally, after the flash mob, they must somehow find their way home… on their own…. from the center of the Big City…  Boggle!

Thus, Tuesday morning, David and DD set off to France to locate and acquire the pass that would be needed.  After some effort, they successfully purchased it and headed back around lunch time.  As it happens, Tuesday is the day for the Kehl outdoor market.  So, they stopped to grab some food and revisit our old town center.  While there, they noticed the lady running one of the food trucks had stepped out to get something from her car.  As she returned to the truck with a bundle in her arms she was loudly startled by a swarm of pigeons that had sneaked into her booth while she had been gone!  She screamed, the pigeons flaps and feathers flew. 

Eventually she calmed down and settled back in to work and the pigeons scatters.  David and DD got their food further in the market and headed back.  On their return trip, David snapped this photo.

Prepping for another sneak attack!

Locals wondered why DD and DH were cackling gleefully as they walked….

Flash Mob Day

Alright, so, since this Flashmob sounded like fun and since DD needed to get home somehow anyways, we decided to go check it out.  DS was feeling a bit under the weather, too, so we went ahead and kept him home and decided to make a Family Event of the whole thing.  Unfortunately, we had never been to the Place Kléber, but we knew it was the main town square for the city of Strasbourg.  How tough to find could it be?  Right?

Wellll…. You can probably guess where this is going. 

Now, David is a control freak who hates it when other people drive.  But, he hates driving in France even more.  So, we agreed that I would take the wheel on this journey.  But, we got off to a bad start.  We couldn’t figure out how to tell Garmin where we wanted to go, and I accidentally left the map in the house.  After several minutes of struggle, I finally gave up on the electronic navigator and dashed back into the house to grab the map- and an umbrella.  Yes.  Springtime in this area means rain!

So, we were already feeling a bit keyed-up when we headed out of the driveway- which was partially blocked by a little green car.  Still, I was convinced I could pass safely.  And, I was almost right…. Only, my side mirror barely clipped their side mirror on the way by.  Since ours is designed to fold down and it was still in place, I had a pretty good sense that no harm had been done, but I glance at the other car just to make sure.  Seeing no damage and no other humans immediately around and wishing to avoid an unnecessary scene, I made an executive decision.  I kept going.

David was not pleased.  Stress in the car was high.  And, to make things worse, we still couldn’t figure out where we were headed.  Eventually, David managed to punch in what he thought was the right location on the Garmin and it started giving directions.  Once in Strasbourg, the directions got familiarly fuzzy.  The satellites do not like parts of the city.  French drivers were predictably French drivers.  And one truck in particular thought that my brake lights were illuminating an alternate roadway for his personal use.  On one turn, trying to avoid the truck’s dangerous pressure, while simultaneously dodging another car that seemed determined to turn from their lane into ours, I managed to catch one wheel on the 1 inch tall center island separating the narrow street from the tramway.  David looked like he would happily have leaped in my lap and driven from there if the design for the car had permitted it.

Perhaps this would be a good place to mention that ordinarily I really *am* a pretty good driver,  Knock wood!  I have never gotten a moving violation, nor have I been involved in a crash (though some guy did lightly rear-end me at a stop light once).  But, I will fully admit that this was Not My Best Driving Day.

Further complications arose. Unmarked one-way roads suddenly became unmarked two-way streets.  Other hazards, like trams and pedestrians and cyclists, started appearing at a dizzying pace.  Then, without warning, our directions stopped.  Actually, it is good that they did because at the time they were telling us to turn the wrong way down a one-way street!  DOH

So, here we were in the middle of Strasbourg, late for the performance, and having no clue whatsoever how to get to DD’s location.  I concentrated on driving and David took another whack at the Garmin.  This time we were able to compare the directions it gave with a sanity check on the map I had printed.  It looked good.  So, I Drove!  Feeling a bit looser, I even pulled out the camera to record a couple highlights of the city….
 

David nearly exploded when I pulled out my camera at a
long stop light to take a photo of the church under renovation.

Getting close to where I was pretty sure the square was located, we spotted a regulation Mall with its own parking structure.  Being unsure where else we might park, I went for it.  Yes indeedy, there were plenty of open spaces.  But… well, let us just say they were… narrow.  After three flubbed attempts, I finally managed to maneuver safely into a tiny spot against a pillar that David was sure I would hit.  I was sure I would not, so I was pleased to be proven right for once today!

From there we hoofed it.  Luckily, my direction-sense is usually pretty good and I had a fairly decent idea where the Square must be hidden given the layout of the surrounding buildings.  Relying on a couple vague street signs and my maternal-homing instincts, we maneuvered the correct three blocks to emerge at the Place Kléber- only about 45 minutes later than we had intended to arrive!  The rain had let up and we didn’t have too much trouble finding DD- even though she was now dressed in the identical T-shirt as all her classmates from the school!  That is not what she was wearing when she left this morning!

Apparently, we had missed the first run through of the Flash Mob- the one where they all pretended to just be hanging out in the square and just happened to get the urge to stand up and dance when this Hip-hop version of the EU Anthem just happened to play over a loudspeaker on a day that just happened to have EU information booths lining the square.  Ah well.  We *were*, though, in time for the encore performance, in which the students dropped the pretense and grimaced their way through 83 verses of some hipster singing about how we are all part of one big European Family to the tune of Ode to Joy.  I really wished someone had mentioned to the kids (who were being filmed by every parent and local TV station in town) that perhaps smiling would be a more convincing way to project European Unity.  But, maybe the message is more clear this way- “yeah, we just grit our teeth and bear it, but we each move our own way and hug at the end- and no one gets hurt.  We are all in it together, for better or worse!” 

Caught DD mid-jump!

Perhaps synchronicity wasn’t their strongest feature, but
they DID all show up and the DID dance!

So, all in all, I think it was a memorable event!  We stopped for ham and cheese sandwiches at a patisserie on the way out (French folks put butter on these, which makes all the difference as far as the kids are concerned!)  Then, letting David take the wheel this time, we headed home.  

A few Strasbourg sites that I didn’t include above:

Blurry, but apparently this is
“The Library of the Entire World”
ROCK ON Strasbourg!!!

This guy adorns one of the bridges- along with 3
similar statues
His other side- I think he is throwing a net
One of his friends….  Don’t these guys
just seem like they ought to be in Moscow?

If you are REALLY curious about the flash mob, I have included a couple of brief video clips.  The first one shows part of their second run through of the dance- this time with their T-Shirts.

The finale- Big Hug!

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