Saturday, September 29, 2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cottage life: The ultimate Canadian experience

If you ever get a chance to visit Canada, you will have to go to a cottage, for a weekend at least. Cause honestly, if you've never been to one, you wont know what the Canadian way of life really is about.

There simply is no arguing about it: Being at a cottage is the Canadian experience. Hanging out in the Canadian wilderness, nothing but woods, lakes, animals and bonfires to experience.

Talking about animals: The squirrels in Canada must be on anabolics. They look as if they've just eaten three South Tyrolean squirrels. As a little snack. Before they have a South Tyrolean badger for supper.
And! There are flying squirrels in Canada. Yes, they are squirrels. And yes, they fly. Or rather glide between the trees. I used to think, that this kind of animals lives in Madagascar only and has big parties singing "I like to move it". Well, that's how wrong one can be...


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Polymer bills: The Canadian Dollar goes plastic

On my last visit to Canada, I saw something rather particular: banknotes made of plastic. They look different, they feel different, they even smell different.

So acting like the little mountain-girl from the European province I admittedly am, I was quite astonished by this apparently futuristic plastic money. I - frankly - felt like I was catching a glimpse of the distant future.
Ok, maybe I am exaggerating a bit. If I made it sound as if we were paying in kind or that we were engaging in countertrade around here, let me assure you: That is not the case. (Although, who knows, how long good old paper Euro will make it?!)

Researching a bit about the super-modern Canadian bills, I found out, that they aren't even that new: The so-called polymer notes were first issued as currency in Australia in 1988! And before the Bank of Canada introduced polymer banknotes in 2011, quite a few other countries had the same idea, such as Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Mexico, Zambia, Nigeria, Nicaragua and many more...
The first European country to introduce a full set of circulating polymer banknotes was Romania in 1999, a country that is not specifically known for its role as a pioneer in modern technologies.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

The world explained by two cows


You have 2 cows. 

You give one to your neighbour. 


You have 2 cows 

The State takes both and gives you some milk. 


You have 2 cows. 

The State takes both and sells you some milk. 


You have 2 cows. 

The State takes both, shoots one, milks the other and then throws the milk away. 


You have two cows. 

You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income. 


You have two cows. 

You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows. 
The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island Company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company. 
The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. 


You have two cows. 

You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. Later, you hire a consultant to analyse why the cow has died. 


You have two cows. 

You have 300 people milking them. You claim that you have full employment and high bovine productivity. You arrest the newsman who reported the real situation. 


You have two cows. 

You worship them. 


You have two cows. 

You go on strike, organize a riot, and block the roads, because you want three cows. 


You have 5,000 cows. None of them belong to you.

You charge the owners for storing them. 


You have two cows. 

Both are mad. 


Everyone thinks you have lots of cows. 

You tell them that you have none. Nobody believes you, so they bomb the crap out of you and invade your country. 
You still have no cows but at least you are now a Democracy. 


You have two cows. 

Business seems pretty good. You close the office and go for a few beers to celebrate. 


You have two cows. 

The one on the left looks very attractive. 


You have two cows borrowed from French and German banks. 

You eat both of them. The banks call to collect their milk, but you cannot deliver so you call the IMF. The IMF loans you two cows. 
You eat both of them. The banks and the IMF call to collect their cows/milk. You are out getting a haircut.


You have two cows, but you don’t know where they are. 

You decide to have lunch. 

I got this text from a very dear friend. I have no idea who owns the rights to it, but I just had to share it.
Have a nice weekend, everyone!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Munich Oktoberfest - warm up follies

Leading up to the 2 weeks and 3 weekends of traditional buzz during the Wies'n, there are quite a lot "Wies'n Warm Up Parties". At those bashes the theme, dresscode, music and food are, as expected, Bavarian Dirndl/Lederhosen style.

Nothing surprising so far, but today I stumbled across yet another pug dog story linked to Oktoberfest and the related Warm Up Parties. Remember, in 2010 a poor little puppy ended up in the lost and found office.

This year a quite fancy Wies'n Warm Up Pug Dog Party was organized. 74 female pug dog owners payed 100 € to enter the event, themselves dressed in rather exotic Dirndl and botox, their dogs in Lederhosen. Makes for an unforgetable group picture! Host of the event was dog "Sir Henry" and his dog-mommy Uschi Ackermann. (The two even have their own homepage.)

During the event some German folk singer performed his new Wies'n hit song called "Scharfe Möpse". For all the non-German-readers here, that translates into either "Spicy pug dogs" or, using more colloquial German language, into "Hot bo*bs". Hmmm yeah, one hell of a classy party entertainment I'd say...
Sir Henry himself

But not enough with the pugs. Her significant other is Gerd Käfer, owner of a successful gourmet food business in Munich and the dog fever in combination with Oktoberfest must have gotten also to him rather severely. While she was organizing the party, Mr. Käfer wrote recipes with Bavarian culinary specialities for - yes, who else- dogs! I'll try to find out if those cook instructions with names like PUG DOG SUSHI (is it just me or does that more sound like a sliced up puppy??)or WOOF PIZZA are bestsellers...
Bavarian pug dog (the gourmet, not the ingredient!) recipes

I can just agree with the author of a southern German newspaper who asks himself, if there is no limit to the lunacy grasping people as Oktoberfest time approaches.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Munich Oktoberfest in numbers

This year's Oktoberfest, or "Wies'n" as the locals call it, is coming up.

For quite a while now it hasn't just been a local thing anymore, people from all over the world come to say "Prost!" and "Mahlzeit!" which results in some crazy numbers:

  • 95 gastronomical companies feed the visitors
  • Oktoberfest employs 8.000 fixed and 4.000 changing workers
  • the biggest tent is the "Hofbräuzelt" with 10.000 seats available (including the beergarden)
  • all in all there are 14 big tents and 21 little ones (the smallest has 60 seats available) and together they offer 105.000 seats
  • had 6.9 million visitors
  • 7.5 million liters of beer (Maß) were consumed 
  • 522.821 chicken and
  • 118 oxen were eaten
  • 4.750 things landed in the lost and found office including a Viking's helmet and some fake teeth
Wies'n Hendl
entrance of a tent called "oxen roaster"

even crazier: in the previous year 2010 the same office had to deal with a pug dog, a bunny, riding crops oh hello Christian Grey! and more hearing aids and fake teeth.
the poor dog found in 2010 - who would even bring one to Oktoberfest?!
200 people ask here for their lost phone DAILY!

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Have a nice weekend, everyone! Hope, all of us get to hear the music.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Flying with Delta part II: Never again

So, we arrived in Ottawa one day later than we had thought. Spend 10 great days there, visiting family and friends, hanging out at cottages, eating, drinking and relaxing.
When the day of departure came, we were driven to the Ottawa airport, which is very nice, clean and you even go through customs there already, so you don't have to do that after your actual arrival in the US, waiting in lines for hours. Super convenient.
You might see it coming: After three hours of waiting, our flight was delayed and then -surprise!- cancelled. Due to a storm in NYC. Well, we were quite bummed out, but at least we knew we could just call family and stay with someone until the day after, for our rescheduled flight in the early morning.
This time, we were smart enough to recheck our flight online in the evening. And again -who would have guessed?!- it was cancelled. At least we didn't have to go back to the airport, waiting there for nothing. Our next flight was supposed to leave the same day at 2 pm, but checking again online on both airport's and the airline's homepages, it appeared to be cancelled on one of them. So we called the airline and the airport but nobody could help us. Nobody knew what was going on. So we went there anyways, but we were pretty pessimistic about the outcome of this anew attempt. We felt like we were just not supposed to go to New York.
And we were surprised again: This time the plane took off almost on schedule. We made it to New York, had two wonderful days there and there was no problem whatsoever with our flight back to Europe.
By the way, asking our cab driver in New York about that storm, that was supposed to have caused the cancellation of two of our flights, he said, that there was one in the morning the day before, but since then the sun had been shining. And other airlines flights had gotten in just fine and on time.
What remains is our declared intention to never fly with Delta Airlines again and an odd allergic reaction hearing the word combination "air traffic problems".

Friday, September 7, 2012

A nightmare comes true: Flying with Delta part I

Well. Well. So far I have been pretty lucky travelling around, I guess. I've never had a flight cancelled or delayed. I have never been stuck at an airport. My travelling plans have never been interfered by giant ash clouds or similar. Really lucky, I know!
This summer though - when I decided to fly with Delta Airlines - the travelling gods turned on me. And this is what happened:
We decided pretty late to hop over the big pond to visit friends and family in Canada and attend a wedding in NYC. The best choices we had for flights were with Turkish Airlines (really cheap, with a layover of about 9 hours in Istanbul, yuck!) and with Delta Airlines (affordable, direct flight Venice - New York JFK, airport change to La Guardia and from there to Ottawa). So we went with Delta - a direct flight from Venice, which is only a three hours car ride from our little mountain town sounded pretty sweet to us!
Our first flight was delayed one hour (ok, no biggy). We made it to JFK and from there to La Guardia in time for our connecting flight to Ottawa, checked in in no time and were just hanging out at a little airport restaurant, watching the opening ceremonies for the Olympic games in London. Then, an hour before boarding, our flight was cancelled. Back to the Delta counter, we met the girl who had already done our check-in - really nice, really helpful and sympathetic. She told us, that the flight was cancelled due to "flight traffic problems", cause there had been a storm on Tuesday (it was Friday?!).
Anyways, cause it was "out of the Airlines control", they wouldn't reimburse our expenses for the overnight stay in New York. The Delta-girl felt so bad for us, that she called a hotel and did a reservation with a little discount from her private cell phone. Saying goodbye, she tried to console us, saying: "You know, it's a hard night for me, too. I have to be at a date in 10 minutes, and I still have to get ready!" Yeah, but really: Thank you Delta-girl, you really made us feel a little better.
We made it to the hotel, slept for good eight hours and got our connection to Ottawa the morning after (which was delayed, too) with unbowed optimism.


Thursday, September 6, 2012


for some reason, always a sign of fall for me

Wow, it's already September!
I know, smart observation. Round of applause for me!
But apart from the big 9 in the calendar, there are some unmistakable signs creeping up, that fall is close.

fruit & vegetables

When I went shopping yesterday, I couldn't help but notice the highly visible change in the produce offered. Instead of cherries and strawberries, there were plums, pears, cabbage and grapes. And they all seemed to scream at me: Ya, summer is over, you sun-addict! Kind of scary. And before you all start to wonder now what the heck I must 've been doing before I went in the store to see blabbering fruit: relax! I have just been really busy the last couple days / weeks, so it came as a surprise to see the first signs of fall in the stores.


For me, summer started when I came back from Denmark at the end of May. The weather in this northern kingdom was nice and sunny, but obviously nothing compared to the temperatures in the northern part of Italy. To make a boring weather report short, it just got really hot here in the middle of August and after about 3 darned hot weeks, there was some some rain recently and the temps fell significantly.

Funny enough, I was jealous the whole time when my man was in Canada and told me about the boiling hot weather ( he hates it). I thought it wasn't fair that the summer in North America should be warmer than in Italy, but being a nice person, I thought that at least he would be more comfortable when he finally came here. Guess what, few days before his arrival, summer heat got here, too.


We're lucky enough to live surrounded by mountains. Every year, usually in the end of August or the beginning of September, it rains for a day or two and the view over the mountains becomes much clearer. It almost seems as if they would have come closer. Im sure, there's some scientifical explanation for that phenomenon. Feel free to enlighten me, if you know!

view from my balcony today

Obviously, there are many many more signs of fall to come and to write about. And we will, as for example about the wine culture in this region, the ongoing harvesting, fall recipes and what kind of weird tradition"Törggelen" is.

What's a sign of fall for you?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Canada, eh!

Obviously, this map doesn't show, what Canada is all about. In the upcoming posts, I'm gonna share some of my recent Canada-experiences with you; e.g. what a chiropractor does to you if you let him, that there really are fast food chains where you get delicious food (McDonalds & Burger King pale in comparison) & why I will never ever ever fly again with Delta, ever!


Saturday, September 1, 2012

The best & easiest pasta recipe ever

Earlier this week, I promised to provide you with the easiest pasta recipe ever. So, here you go: This is not only the easiest, but also the best pasta recipe for Spaghetti al pomodoro for two people.

You need:

A 500 gr package of Spaghetti
(go for an Italian brand like Barilla or De Cecco. If you have any chance, buy them at an Italian importer, cause they make the pasta differently for different countries - in Canada e.g. the pasta is more doughy and it's a lot harder to cook it perfectly "al dente")

About 4 tomatoes
(or, if the season's not right a can of tomatoes, preferably "pelati")

Half an onion

1 garlic clove

Olive oil "extra vergine" (Actually, for cooking a lower quality level of olive oil would do it, too. But seen that I love adding another shot of oil to the pasta when it's done, I prefer this best of all olive oils)

Salt & pepper

You don't need any cooking skills in order to do the following:

Take a large and a small pot. The large one, you fill with water and add a handful of salt (yes, right, it takes a lot of salt). Put it on the stove at the highest temperature and cover it with a lid.
While the water is getting heated up, mince the onion and garlic and chop up the tomatoes. Put the small pot on the stove, and cook the onion and garlic in olive oil until they soften and turn goldish-brown. Then add the tomatoes, season to taste with salt and pepper and let the whole thing cook at medium temperature until the pasta is done.
When the water is boiling, put the Spaghetti in the pot and cook them as long as indicated on the package. It is important though to stir the pasta resolutely in the beginning, so it doesn't stick together. And you do wanna start trying single noodles 2 minutes before the indicated cooking time is over, to make sure it turns out "al dente" (= literally means "to the tooth" and refers to the texture of the pasta, that should show a slight resistance in the center when chewed). Once, you think the pasta has the ideal consistency, strain it and add a shot of olive oil.
Mix it up with the tomatoe sauce and here you go: super easy, super delicious Spaghetti al pomodoro!

A couple tips:
  • In order to make sure, whatever you cook turns out the way you like it, you have to taste it over and over again throughout the whole cooking process and then change it if it's not there yet!
  • There is nothing you can do, once you find out in the end, that the pasta is not salty enough. So make sure, there is a lot of salt in the water, you even might wanna taste the water, that should remind you of seawater. If then, the pasta turns out oversalted, wash it down with warm water after cooking (that might not take away all the saltiness, but at least make the pasta edible).
  • Sky really is the limit! You can modify this recipe according to your taste and cravings: Use more or less onions and garlic. Add whichever herbs you feel like, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, parsley...Add olives. Add capers. Spice it up with chilli. Add ricotta. Chop up some mozzarella and spread it over the pasta. Use your imagination!