Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Germany is in 4th place for pageviews on my blog.

I have traveled through Germany many times.  I have stayed in Hamburg and Celle with my relatives, both uncles, aunts and cousins.  I love them all!  They were so kind to me when I enjoyed my stayed with them.

I remember my Grandfather in Hamburg being so kind and considerate to keep a lamp burning all night.  From a previous trip, He remembered that I didn't like to sleep in the dark.

I didn't have much of a relationship with him, living overseas, but what I did have from was very positive; he was kind and gentle with me and showed interest in telling the family's stories.

I only wish he would have been more personal in his cards, instead of admonishing me to "keep the Lord's commandments."  That was not what I needed.  But that is what he knew.

I think he cared.  I think he did like me--and that is a nice feeling.  I could recognize my father in him; always trying to make jokes and be jolly.

I have also stayed in Celle.  I have many relatives on my mother's side who lived there (they actually emigrated there from east Germany fleeing from the Russians at the end of the war), but the older ones who I knew have all died--all my mother's siblings in Germany. I liked them all and they tried to make me feel welcome.  I will never forget that.

Here I was, some American strange relation from far away, and yet they rolled out the red carpet for me.  I have to thank my Tante (aunt), especially.  I always stayed at her house and she was always so kind to me.  She reminded me a lot of my mother (and, like Mama, had a wonderful garden).  And my other Tante, who died many years ago, who was a fighter and a challenger.  (She lost her husband in he Russian prison camp--and she never got over it.)  She bore and raised 6 children practically alone.

Then there was my cousin who showed me a wonderful time in Celle.  I will never forget his kindness and the way we clicked.  Communication was easy.

After our visit, he contacted me a little late when I was studying in Austria, but he kept his promise to travel with me in Europe in the summer when his semester in college was over.  However, my life evolved in a different direction because I had already met my future husband and was planning to go to Greece.

My favorite aunt on my mother's side is her younger sister.  What a wonderful woman.  She knows so much.  She loves people.  She keeps the larger family together somehow.  She is beautiful, even in her 80's.  She is a survivor, having recently survived the death of her husband of many decades, after many years of caring for him, and also her own physical challenges, along with the challenges of WWII.

I will also remember her as laughing, smiling, warm, and personable.  She really reached out to my family, though she lived so far away in the U.S.  And she kept tabs on me when I moved to her city.  (Every Tuesday, I was invited to her house for a meal and good conversation.  So nice--when you are single, especially!)

Every year my family went to visit extended family in America.  It was fun for me; a highlight of my year--the culture was very different, and I got to connect with a plethora of German relatives; some of which I grew to know and love, and some who are still somewhat distant, but interesting.

Families are strange entities.  I admire those who reached out to me.  A cousin who looked like a 50's movie queen, with her platinum blond hair stacked high; her husband who teased me mercilessly (but who I still liked), and their children--3 girls and a boy who I once babysat.

And then there was my maternal aunt who loved her poodles and her embroidery and her family.  She was a sensitive soul.  And I had such a crush on her son (my cousin)!

I remember my maternal uncle who seemed to be jolly most of the time, and was very warm and inviting.  When he became a senior citizen, I was rewarded by my visits with him and learned much about our family (...if he just didn't harp on religion so much!).

I cherish my memories of being carried into our station wagon by my father at 4 a.m. and taking off in our car in the wee hours to beat the traffic on our way to visit relatives who had immigrated to America.  It was always an adventure to go on these trips.  Daddy always made plans to see something significant on the way--national parks, monuments, etc.  He was an adventurer, a risk taker at heart.  Like me.  (Or I am like him!)

On those summer trips, I remember the cool evenings with NO mosquitoes, low humidity.  Sooooo nice.  I remember canals of water rushing down from the mountains in front of the houses (in the city!) and putting my hands and feet into the cool, clean water.  I thought that was so neat!  I remember my cousin taking us for a special ice cream cone at least once per visit.

I have so many memories of those good times.  At the house where we usually stayed, my aunt-in-law, who was jolly and outspoken, treated me well when I was a college student and visited occasionally.  She was really a story-teller.  She spoke about her past and memories, which I remember until this day.

I remember sleeping in her basement many summers during our family visits.  She wasn't blood related, but was so kind to me.  (She gave me hair pins from Germany to make a hair bun.)  I'll never forget it.  And the kindness of my Onkel (uncle), too.  He worked hard until retirement at very physical work.

I guess because I was one of the oldest children of my parents, I related well to the older generation.  I still do.  I'm much more interested in what my aunts and uncles have to say, than my cousins, though there are some cousins I especially adore!

To this day, I still relate better to my parents and people in their generation, though they are about 30 years older.  Strange,  I don't know why.  I guess I grew up in a very German environment, in school, in a German city, in a church that at one time had their Sunday School lessons in German.  I remember many, many Sunday evenings at our home, eating "aufschnitt" and drinking Pero, discussing the war with other Germans.  I treasure those memories.

I was the daughter of a high official of my church.  So church members often automatically assumed I was good and an example to follow.  That was a dichotomy for me.  But it was the only time in my life that I was considered to be in a kind of prestige position (for lack of a better word) in our small religious circle.  It was at once both a pressure that I resented and a pleasure that I adored....  Those days are long since gone.

My life has given me so much--I don't think I would trade it.  And I have made lifelong friends in my former church, who, luckily, still consider me valuable in their lives, despite the fact that I no longer share their "faith".  Who could know me better than those children with whom I grew up?  And to have their ongoing friendship after long periods of absence....well, I consider myself very blessed.

Love to my friends!  And to my family!!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Thai politeness:

Four Thai's were standing out in a torrential monsoon rain without an umbrella, when all of a sudden they spotted an umbrella laying on the ground next to them....... Guess what happened next.........

Nothing! They all stood there and continued getting wet.

Didn't get the joke?  Don't worry.  It's just culture shock.  :0) 

BTW, this joke works for Balinese, as well! 


This is Thailand, formerly known as "Siam".

The main city is Bangkok--also known as the hottest city in the world!  (I hate the heat.)

My husband and I used to travel to Bangkok to buy jewelry and accessories for our shops.  Did we have good experiences?  Yes, AND difficult ones.

Like the time my husband got an ear infection that was killing him with pain and we went to a hospital in Bangkok. Our experience there was very positive (after we got over worrying).  Doctor spoke English, was quick and efficient, and treated him which relieved his pain.

People usually think that hospitals in Asia are 2nd rate.  Actually, they are the best in that part of the world, except for Singapore.


Probably the main tourist attraction is the Grand Palace.  Other smaller palaces also dot the city.
These palaces are something right out of our imaginations of what Bangkok used to look like.
This is Kao San Road.  It is a relatively short street crammed with wholesalers selling jewelry, mostly, street food, hostels and hotels, hookers, drugs, hepatitis, and other various and sundry traveler's illnesses.  (Of course, dysentery is par for the course. :0( )

If you ever go there, I suggest getting a room with air conditioning!  The first few times, we were tight with our money and stayed in hostel type places with only one ceiling fan.

In these places, I needed to get up 20 times a night to take a cold shower (there was no hot water, anyway) so I could get back to sleep.  If I didn't sleep well, shopping was hell in the heat!

The most popular form of transportation is called the "tuk-tuk" (after the sound these vehicles make).  It is cheap, noisy, smelly, and, of course, extra hot--and it can be quite the travelers experience.  Tuk-tuks use 2-stroke engines, so they pollute terribly.  I think the only other place where the air was so polluted was Delhi.


A common attraction, included in most travel books on Bangkok, are the canal boats from which women sell their produce.  Do they really do this?  Yup.  It is really cool to see, but watch your step around that area, so you don't fall in.

Bangkok is famous for its nightlife.  Pat Pong is a street in the middle of the city that is a Thai Las Vegas, except that betting isn't the main activity--strip clubs are.  There are a lot of other interesting aspects to this area, but I want to keep this post as "G" as possible!  :0)
Ahhhh, Bangkok traffic.  If you like riding around in cars for a very long time and having the driver take his life into your hands, this is the place for YOU!

This pic is the scene was experienced each time when we went to the airport.  Once we were running late and urged the driver to go faster.

The Thai people are very polite.  In their culture, it is bad form to show negative emotions.  Well, WE didn't know that!  We just continued on our volatile Greek ways until the taxi driver starting pounding his head into the headrest--while smiling all the whole time.

That was so strange (and humorous, when not thinking of the stress we helped cause this poor fellow) to see people not fighting back after living in Greece so long.  Culture shock.

Well, that taxi ride is one travel experience I regret.  But it was exciting at first to see this exotic metropolis--and business was good.

P.S. Don't tell any Thai people that you saw "Anna and the King" or "The King and I" because they hate this movie.  They contend that it shows disrespect for the King.  (Hey, they take this stuff seriously...  At the beginning of movies, everyone stands up---at least they did back then--and sings the national anthem that includes praises to the King.)

Thursday, March 22, 2012


IN HEAVEN:                                                     
  1. The cooks are French,
  2. The policemen are English,
  3. The mechanics are German,
  4. The lovers are Italian,
  5. The bankers are Swiss.                               
  1. The cooks are English,
  2. The policemen are German,
  3. The mechanics are French,
  4. The lovers are Swiss,
  5. The bankers are Italian.



    Living in Greece, I noticed that Greeks are very impatient about things I considered not worth getting upset about, and extremely patient about things I thought were worthy of impatience (like being on time, government services, garbage disposal, riots).

    I am, by nature, an impatient person.  Anyone who really knows me, knows this! ;0)

    One of the greatest challenges to my impatience was living abroad.  Everything seems so different.  If you don't adapt, remain or become flexible, cool down, and change perspectives, your impatience can ruin wonderful experiences, create more stress, and can even be dangerous.

    After "banging my head against the wall" many times, I slowly began to let go.  I let go of trying to control situations and others.  I stopped judging so much.  I actually became (in comparison to before, at least!) LAID BACK.  Yes, it IS possible to change!

    Do I still lose patience from time to time--yyyyeeessss!  But I've learned to be patient with myself for not being perfect and get over it faster.  (If you aren't an overachieving, perfectionist, type "A" personality...impatience is probably not an issue for you.  You may need to learn to be less patient!  ;0)

    I'm very grateful for my experiences living in other environments and cultures.  Learning more patience was just one reward of challenging myself to change and grow in my travels and living as an expat.

    Sunday, March 11, 2012


    Like many people, I am very concerned about our civil liberties being eroded!

    I am so glad that most of my travels happened before all these current security measures.

    Hey, I can remember when anyone could see you off from the gate at the airport!  Can you?  And we weren't "handled", searched, and X-rayed.  THOSE were the days...


    Will Greece "bite the dust?"
    How long before the other "poorer" countries end up on the same heap of broken plates?

    Ach, Ellada...

    Thursday, February 23, 2012





    The Indian Pantheon is very intricate.  The main representations are Krishna, Vishnu and Brahma--and their consorts, in order, Lakshmi, Parvati (and Kali and Durya, depending on the powers needed), and finally Shiva, a name more familiar to Westerners.  These are all "avatars" of God.

    Then there are devis that are representations of the avatars that are very powerful entities like Ganesh, Hanuman, Rama, Sita, (the Rama/Sita story is a romantic legend that involves Hanuman--very well known throughout the Hindi cultures) Indra, Agni, Viruna, Soma, Prajapati,  and Mitra.  I think 33 gods altogether, though somehow in history it became 330 million to indicate eternity.  (Are you getting the picture of how confusing this can be?)

    Interestingly, the Krishna/Vishnu/Brahma depictions are the main aspects of God. It is called the "Trimurti" or "Tridevi" (like a Godhead?  Trinity?).  ("Tria" means 3 in Greek.)  

    Atman is name of the ultimate God--he is at the top. God is believed to be everywhere and in everything.  There are no depictions of the ultimate God that I know of.  I'm not sure, but perhaps it is prohibited to depict God in Hindu religion as it is in Islam?

    To add to the complexities of Gods, there are different sects of Hinduism.  I never got it all straight--and I doubt that few Westerners have (maybe even Hindus?!).  (Do you have all your religious  beliefs straight? :0)  

    The best way I can describe this pantheon (Greek word, by the way, meaning many gods) is that through the one God, Atman (There's the word "man"; is that anglicized?  Atman--good name for a God.) there are aspects of power and life that are personified by different avatars or entities, like Saraswati who is intelligence, Agni who symbolizes psychological power or the power of the will (my favorite), and Kali, who represents destruction and recreation. (She seems to be pretty popular.) And there are many more... 

    Hindus can choose which avatar to worship as their inclination or needs dictate.  (Kind of Catholic, no?)  Lots of icons are used as in Orthodoxy.  They say it helps the people to envision what they are worshiping.  (I think they have a point. Unfortunately, it easily becomes the object that is worshiped, not the entity or idea.)

    I find it interesting that many of these names are also Greek words (Agni=pure; Mitra=womb; Soma=body).  Mmmm.  Does anyone know if there is a connection here?

    Anyway, fascinating stuff!






    If these depictions strike you as androgynous, don't feel like the lone ranger.  I think it is like creating an ideal of both sexes--the best of both.  Just my opinion...or the artists were gay...bah, just because they're artists, they're not gay, right?

    (The Main Avatar)
    Anyway, aren't they beautiful?  Or am I alone?  On one of my trips to India, I made sure to buy postcards replete with Hindi Gods and Goddesses to take home with me--just to look at.

    Many times people have told me to write a book because of my travels and experiences.  I don't have the confidence that such a book will be interesting to many people.  So, this blog is the closest I may get!


    P.S.  If I got any of this information wrong, feel free to correct me.  I don't want to be perpetuating myths about myths!  ;0)