the art of learning german II

German can be fun if you have the right attitude and the right teacher. Last week in Deutsch course I’ve made a huge breakthrough with two simple yet wise abbreviations.

What do a dog and a princess being in love with a man have in common? Easy, they stand for common prepositions used alongside an Akkusativ or a Dativ case. Allow me to break it down even further:

  1. Common prepositions found with Akkusativ are – durch, ohne, gegen, für, um herum, entlang
    Best way to remember them is – DOG FUE
  2. Common prepositions found with Dativ – aus, bei, mit, nach, von, seit, zu
    Best way to remember them is – AUBEMINA von SEITZU (that is a princess’ name and she is in love with Mr. Mnn – Mr. Mnn is short form for Mr. Minnesota)
  3. Quick note about Mr. Mnn – he stands for the Dativ form of articles in German, which are – dem (der), der (die), dem (das), den (pl.) with an ending in en

Like I said before – huge breakthrough! It actually helps a non-native speaker a lot. Punkt. Fertig. Aus die Maus!

P.S. I’ve also included a bunch of new words added to my vocabulary – whatever will I do with all of them?


oh what a world…

This week has been the first week in a long time that I actually felt motivated, busy and fully alert to all possibilities. These are the benefits I reap from my body gets used to my cleanse.

My week started off with my regular Deutsch classes, which by the way are super helpful and I can’t speak enough about the efficiency and the speed at which I am learning at – well done Insula! This Friday will mark the end of my A1 classes. On Monday I start A2, which apparently is supposed to be not as grammatically stuffed – whew!

All of a sudden things got really busy. I had an AIWCC meeting, finished off a small project (which hopefully will bring in more clients), landed a small job for 2.5h every Friday teaching two small kids English and a lot of administrative work required for getting myself connected more in Köln.

All in all my cleanse is keeping me alert, and responsive – all this, of course, without any coffee! Maybe I will stick to this regiment the whole year?! Although I would miss steak too much and a latte once in a while!!

Stay tuned for friday findings.


image © Mike Bernard

little renaissance town


In my previous Xmas post I mentioned that I will be writing about a town called Wasserburg in Bavaria. I am calling this town the ‘little renaissance town’ for obvious reasons. Please see photos.


At my first glance walking towards the little town from the bridge it screamed out “old Italian architecture”, although with a slightly medieval flair. The old stone buildings all have pastel colours ranging from pinks to yellows to blues and greens, mimicking the very same that can be found in some Italian towns. Turns out that apparently the Bavarian rulers of this town were once heavily influenced by Italian aristocrats and they invested a lot of money and time into building this beautiful town right by the river. An amazing sight it is. With small streets that have the capacity of fitting one car at a time, it can sometimes be less accommodating to daily tourists coming in and out, and parking can be a hassle, but all worth it. At the end of the day I am left thinking that I have to come back here in the summer!!


As an aside story: In this little town when a family has a new baby it is a customary tradition to hang out of their balconies baby clothes in the colour of the gender. The reason why I know this is that there were a lot of pink and blue baby clothes hanging outside of people’s balconies in December…

Both the cuisine and shopping in Wasserburg took me by surprise. With a lot of coffee shops serving the best Chai latte I have ever had to an array of Italian sandwiches to super modern gastronomic restaurant that could very easily be rated top 20 in Germany. Super high end stores can be found all along the winding streets.

Ah little renaissance town of Wasserburg!


dying from christmas… not

background 2

After a regime of eat, sleep, eat and sleep I think it’s time for my annual cleanse to take over and save me.

Spending Christmas walking, greeting people and seeing the most marvelous corners of Bavaria does not mean that my body excuses the amounts of food and drinks I have dumped into it. In light of that my first day back in Köln was spent vigorously letting go of the habitual eating times and quantities by pumping myself with supplements, veggies, fruits and basically with all the nutrients it has missed.

Day 1 and 2 of my cleanse I spent with an excruciating headache. I think this was self-inflicted because I could have totally avoided this trap by not being so eager to start my cleanse and simply ease my body into it and not shock it with such a dramatically quick change. I am on Day 3 and it’s looking pretty good so far.

I have included a breakdown of my cleanse below, which follows similar footsteps as the Wild Rose. Both are founded basically on eating primarily certain types of fruits, vegetables, and nuts alongside taking supplements. Although, my cleanse allows me to eat chicken, fish, turkey and gluten free sausages! (no red meat though). I have also included the supplements I am taking.

My body requires me to do this cleanse every year and after the first week I feel amazing. The clarity starts to set in and my body awakens from what I can describe as hibernation, and I start to feel more alert without any stimulants such as coffee, black tea or any other caffeinated products. Mainly, my body starts to talk and both my brain and I start to listen to its needs. It’s a fantastic transformation. The first year I tried this cleanse I was documenting everything – almost like a diary and I think it’s so important to track and record your body changes as you interrupt its normal routines.

For me this is a fantastic metamorphosis phase I look forward to each year. Although, I warn you: The first (and possibly second) week is not pretty.

Click here for the food chart (PDF)


1. Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids
2. D-Drops (vitamin D)  liquid 1000 IU/ drop
3. NutraSea HP (high potency) by Ascenta (Fish oil)
4. Intrinsi B12 Folate by Metagenics
5. Magnesium:  MagGlycinate by Metagenics
6. Chlorophyll:  ChloroClear by Metagenics
7. Zymactive with Serratia Peptidase (start with normal strength) – by Natural Factors
8. Turmeric & Bromelain by Natural Factors


If you go to Bavaria you have to do it right. What does that mean?

For one, you have to adopt a grandma and enjoy a traditionally made lunch by her. In Bavaria the most substantial meal of the day is at lunch time, so usually you will be served warm heavy foods. Major tip – bring your appetite. A very authentic Bavarian lunch will consist of Weißwurst with sweet Dijon-like mustard and the famous Brezn. Basically the Weißwurst needs to be bought fresh that day and then it’s boiled for about 5 mins. Reminder: peel the skin counter-clockwise (kidding – you can peel it however you want). You then take the naked Weißwurst freshly dipped in the sweet mustard and enjoy! I found that freshness and quality are the key to enjoying all these savoury lunch items. I walked away loving it!


Secondly, beer!! If you find yourself in this part of the world, take it all in by trying an array of different Bavarian beers and then you will conclude just like I have concluded that these cats only have about one ok beer, while the rest are super! I also tried a “Maßkrug” (a.k.a. one liter mug) of organic dark beer. I would not do that again but it must be tried once by all.  The best is to go to a local restaurant that brews their own beer, sit back and take in the culture. See below some of the tasty beers I tried and loved.


Lastly, visiting Munich, Fraueninsel (an island in lake Chiemsee), and the beautiful Renaissance town of Wasserburg. I will be writing three separate posts to describe these three places in great detail, stay tuned…

Christmas in Bavaria – oh, how I wish I could share it with all of you!

fast rails

fast train

Italian Frecciarossa high speed trains have quite the charm. Whether you ride first or second class, the experience is quite special. You know the saying, “don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” well in this case, please do because it will make your experience that much more grandiose. I remember riding the train from Rome to Florence and from Florence to Salerno, which allowed for enough leg room and a cute little table on which to write my thoughts. Looking out the window was a really treat but I only did that for about half an hour and then…

German speed trains, the ICEs, are precise. Let’s just say they are not forgiving to late comers from my experience. I have found them to arrive on the minute and depart at the exact time without any delays. I am not quite sure why the Germans have such hatred towards their very own trains (although I am told I may have been uncannily lucky so far re train punctuality). Ah to be German! The trains are super clean and the people are super quiet, which is why I am quickly fast …

Then there is the Thalys, oh this train, I had to save the best for last. From Cologne to Paris, on the fast train it takes only about 3 hours – reaching speeds of about 300km/h. It’s incredible. In first class, there is even catering. Depending on the time you travel you get breakfast or a meal and snacks. My breakfast was delicious – no comparison to airline food. And as always, anything to do with Germans, means incredible neatness. It’s simply an awesome experience even though, sad to report I was quickly …

What do all these fast trains have in common? Me being fast asleep, something I am quite known for. From high speed trains in Rome, Florence, Salerno, Paris and Cologne there is nothing quite like the luxurious experience of sleeping on fast European trains. Evidence below, and I am quite proud of the gallery 🙂


’tis the season

For all those seasoned enthusiasts who enjoy long conversations by a fireplace here is a recipe that I would like to share with my dear Deutschländers.

Tis’ the season to make Eggnog.

It is a super delicious North American Xmas cocktail giving people one more reason to drink lovely concocted cocktails.

Items you will need (per serving, i.e. a large mug):


ml Cognac
5 ml Sugar syrup (1 water : 2 sugar)
1 fresh Egg (white & yolk)
15 ml Double (heavy) cream
60 ml Milk

What to do:

Mix all ingredients in a pan at super low heat and serve! Anyone can make it!

Sehr lecker…

This drink can also be enjoyed while watching a classic and an all time tradition in our family for many years – Christmas Vacation! Yes, the picture below is a scene from Christmas Vacation where they are sharing a few laughs while drinking the good old American favourite drink.


twinkling little lights

What do Glühwein, Reibekuchen and Feuerzangenbowle all have in common? I think anyone can guess what this post will be about; all the Christmas markets here in Köln (for those of you who can’t make it to a Christmas market in Germany this year, follow the links above to recipes of my top three market delights).


My favourite Weihnachtsmarkt is on the Rhine River next to the chocolate museum. This particular market is the only one that allows enough room for you to actually walk around holding your mulled wine without somebody bumping into you. Basically it’s much less crowded — If you want a lot of excitement then I would suggest going to the Weihnachtsmarkt at Heumarkt, which can entertain all ages alike and they even have a skating rink! Super cool! While I walked through the German crowd I started to understand just how seriously the Germans take the Xmas markets. They put an incredible amount effort and it shows. I found people from all around the world in the crowds being wowed and simply having a lot of fun!


At the Heumarkt market, I stood at the bar talking to the enthusiastic pourers of copious amounts of booze for people and they all had one thing in common. They loved this job. Super cheerful, fluent in English, and with great smile – who wouldn’t want to come here every year, I ask. As a loud bell was rung they all shouted “ahoy”. There is simply no other way to put this but to say one has to experience it by being personally amidst the wonders of these German humans putting on quite the show each year.

There are thousands of little wooden houses that display a wide range of Christmas merchandise all unique and ranging to satisfy all sorts of individual taste. I bought a red angel tree ornament for our tree – see picture below.

I walked away delighted and warm on the inside from the Feuerzangenbowle!



the art of learning german

here are a few questions for my fellow Deutschländers:

why throw me off with all the irregular verbs/difficult conjugations? why make memorizing numbers so hard? lastly, why can’t you simply refer to everyone in the formal ‘You’?

For my fellow North Americans here are the reasons for my rant above:

1. I love the conjugation of regular German verbs; however irregular verbs are simply a pain in the butt. Example, here is the conjugation for a irregular verb such as sein = to be

Now I ask you, why? I invented my very own conjugation → ich

2. Numbers from 1-20 are super easy, not a problem. From 20-100 the madness starts. The Germans would say a number such as 23 like so, three twenty. In case you need the German version of how to say it, here it is. Again, as if the language is not complex enough why add that extra torturing layer?

3. Germans have serious rules about when and how to refer to people in the formal You. Any exception to the rule requires the permission of the addressee to the addressor. Here is what I found though: Conjugating verbs when you are using the formal You is way easier, so why not refer to everyone in the formal You. Ok, I know here I am pushing it a bit. I am just wondering if and when I will be able to speak this language, that’s all.

On a surreal note, I love the language and I can’t wait to be able to use it properly in everyday events. Insula is providing a lot of in-class talking practice, which I haven’t been used to much. I am loving my intense course and tomorrow will mark day 3 of my captivity with learning German. J I shall report more as my vocab builds up…


spring on the high line / damn, we’re in new york again!

A couple of weeks ago I posted a picture in the post entitled ‘art?’ asking where it was taken.

The answer is the High Line in New York City!

One of the best, most artistically profound, suspended above the city, incredibly landscaped outdoor walks I have ever taken.

The High Line starts at Gansevoort Street and ends at about 34th (Manhattan’s West Side), which is about 1.6km. The whole time you are walking above the city, as its name would indicate, and you are walking amidst some of the most beautiful landscaping. If you want a break from your walk there are cafés along the way to stop in. The best part about this walk is the art scattered in the most lonesome places, making it stand out beautifully. An example is the picture I posted which is an old deserted factory building that now features a rusted apocalyptic art piece. I also remember sitting on a bench and as soon as I sat down loud opera music started to play. The music shielded me from my surroundings creating a bubble-like atmosphere in which I could let my mind run wild.

Last spring, Felix and I were off to NYC to meet two friends: Andrea, a great interior designer, and Taylor, who has a landscaping company. We all wanted inspiration so we decided the High Line would be ideal. Let’s just say the day of – all super hung-over – the Line provided us with levity and great ideas!  Even on a rainy day you can still enjoy the High Line’s wonders. Go and do it!

PS: Thank you Susan for bringing the High Line to the table!

highline1_sm highline2 highline3