Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Growing anticipation

As the days go by, I am growing more and more anxious about moving to Germany. I am very excited and happy to moving. It will such an adventure. On the one hand I am excited and on the other I am nervous. I do not speak German, but I know once I live there it will be fine and a lot easier than trying to learn in a classroom in America. If you are learning it in a class and then you leave class and hear and speak and think in English, then you will never really assimilate German into your thinking. Once I am in Germany it will be much easier to pick it up. I am sure I will fumble through the first few months, but eventually it will start sinking into my head....Wish me luck!

Monday, November 28, 2005

50,000 still without power in Germany

I am not looking forward to the snow. I have lived most of my life in places where it does not snow. I will get use to it I guess. I read in the news that 50,000 in the western parts of Germany are still without power.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Packing and shopping

We have spent the weekend so far packing for our move to Germany. We even sold our six-drawer dresser today on Craigslist. Today we are going to brave Union Square and buy a few things we need. The after-Thanksgiving holiday shoppers will be out in full force, but I am sure it will be less crowded today than last Friday...

More about North Rhine-Westphalia

North Rhine-Westphalia (German: Nordrhein-Westfalen, short: NRW) is the largest in population (though only fourth in area) among Germany's 16 federal states. It has about 18 million inhabitants and comprises 34,080 km² (13,158 square miles) in western-northwestern Germany. North Rhine-Westphalia contributes about 22 percent of Germany's gross domestic product; its capital is Düsseldorf. For more photos of Düsseldorf click here.

Cold snap grips Europe

A Duesseldorf airport spokesman said 36 flights had to be redirected and 25 were canceled. "I have been working at the airport for 11 years and I cannot remember something like this ever happening before," spokesman Torsten Hiermann said.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Packing for Germany

Today we started packing our personal belongings to ship to Germany. What a chore!

The Day after Thanksgiving

Well, it is the day after Thanksgiving and it is raining. It has been warm
and sunny for weeks and now that I have a four-day weekend it is raining. Oh well, that is ok because I am going to get started packing for my big move to Dusseldorf. It isn't that far off now...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

For those of you that don't know, this is what it means officially:

In 1621, after a hard and devastating first year in the New World the Pilgrim's fall harvest was very successful and plentiful. There was corn, fruits, vegetables, along with fish which was packed in salt, and meat that was smoke cured over fires. They found they had enough food to put away for the winter.

The Pilgrims had beaten the odds. They built homes in the wilderness, they raised enough crops to keep them alive during the long coming winter, and they were at peace with their Indian neighbors. Their Governor, William Bradford, proclaimed a day of thanksgiving that was to be shared by all the colonists and the neighboring Native American Indians.

The custom of an annually celebrated thanksgiving, held after the harvest, continued through the years. During the American Revolution (late 1770's) a day of national thanksgiving was suggested by the Continental Congress.

In 1817 New York State adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom. By the middle of the 19th century many other states also celebrated a Thanksgiving Day. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a national day of thanksgiving. Since then each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, usually designating the fourth Thursday of each November as the holiday.

FOR those of you that live in the US and know what it really means...
It is a day to eat as much food and drink as you want!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Angela Merkel, Germany's first female chancellor!

Angela Merkel was sworn in Tuesday as Germany's eighth post-World War II leader and its first female chancellor, taking an oath of office that commits her to "dedicate my strength to the welfare of the German people."

The inauguration ceremony in parliament formally sealed the conservative Merkel's rise to power after lawmakers elected her chancellor on a vote of 397-202, with 12 abstentions.

Merkel, who succeeds Gerhard Schroeder, is also the first former East German to lead her country.

She heads a right-left "grand coalition" that joins her center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) and their sister Christian Social Union (CSU) with Schroeder's Social Democrats (SPD).

But about 50 of Schroeder's Social Democrats voted against her, indicating dissent among the coalition's ranks.

Schroeder was the first to walk over and congratulate a smiling Merkel after the vote was announced.

"Dear Mrs. Merkel, you are the first democratically elected female head of government in Germany," parliament president Norbert Lammert said.

"That is a strong signal for women and certainly for some men, too. I wish you strength, God's blessing and also some enjoyment in your high office."

The parliamentary vote came six months after Schroeder announced he was seeking national elections a year early, plunging Germany into a period of political uncertainty.

An inconclusive election forced Germany's largest parties into talks, and it took two months after the vote to reach the end result.

Merkel's CDU/CSU won the September 18 elections by a razor-thin plurality in the Bundestag, or lower house of parliament, forcing the parties to form a "grand coalition" with Schroeder's SPD.

After weeks of negotiations, the two blocks reached agreement on measures aimed at fighting 11 percent unemployment, controlling spending and reforming the government.

But some SPD members opposed some of the measures, including loosening labor market rules. Their votes against the coalition could mean trouble ahead for a government with a four-year mandate.

Pastor's daughter
Merkel, 51, was born in Hamburg but grew up in East Germany as the daughter of a pastor.

She joined the pro-democracy movement in the waning days of the communist era, then rose through the ranks of the Christian Democrats under then-Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

Polls show many Germans are unconvinced the CDU leader will last a full four-year term because of the tough coalition deal she had to strike with the SPD.

The SPD finished a close second and secured half of the 16 seats in Merkel's Cabinet, including the high-profile finance and foreign affairs portfolios.

Merkel was forced during the hard coalition talks to abandon a planned major shake-up of the German social welfare system that had been a cornerstone of her economic reforms.

The new chancellor bargained away key campaign pledges such as limiting union power in regional wage negotiations and accepted a Social Democrat demand for a "rich tax" on top earners.

However, the Social Democrats' parliamentary leader said he was convinced the new government would succeed.

"For that we require a strong chancellor," Peter Struck, defense minister under Schroeder, told The Associated Press. "The foundation stone will be set with the election of Ms. Merkel."

Merkel has vowed to resuscitate the economy -- once Europe's motor but now one of the most sluggish in the 25-nation European Union -- and cut unemployment that hit post-war highs under Schroeder.

Merkel also wants to repair relations with the United States, strained by Schroeder's vocal opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

After Tuesday's vote in parliament, she and her Cabinet were sworn in and formally took over from the SPD-Greens coalition government that Schroeder led for the past seven years.

Her clinical, almost shy approach, has been mocked in the German media, but some commentators, Reuters says, believe it is tailor-made for a coalition that bridges right and left and requires delicate handling.

"Her dislike of the theatrical in politics, of the show and big words, fits with the new sobriety of Germany's younger generation," the German daily newspaper Handelsblatt said in an editorial on Tuesday.

One of Merkel's first engagements will be in Paris to meet French President Jacques Chirac Wednesday -- and then on to Brussels to meet EU officials.

She is flying to London on Thursday to meet British PM Tony Blair. The EU budget is certain to be among topics discussed.

Schroeder said he will step down from his Bundestag seat Wednesday to return to private life.

Christmas Market in Dusseldorf

Düsseldorf attracts many visitors with its large number of markets, from traditional to trendy, for Christmas shopping along the river Rhine from November 21 to December 23. See the sparkling "Christmas-Street" at Schadowstraße...

Where is Dusseldorf?

A common question I get when I tell people I am moving to Dusseldorf, Germany is...Where is Dusseldorf? Well here is a map. It is about an hour and a half on a train from Amsterdam. It is about four hours by train to Paris. Dusseldorf is located on the far western edge of Germany just north of Cologne.

Altstadt (Old Downtown)

Altstadt (Old Downtown)

The Altstadt, considered as the "longest bar of the world," contains more than 220 catering trade enterprises. This means you will never feel bored nor alone. The spectrum goes from the house brewery over scene shops and earthy taverns to the party "up to falling down" on Bolker Straße.

Narrow lanes and old churches, quaint breweries and ancient pubs, hip bars and clubs as well as good old French fries and exquisite food. The waiters are at times a bit rough, the next Alt beer comes without ordering, a hearty meal goes with a funny story, there can be a lot of hubbub and tranquility just a few steps away. In short: if you want to really get to know Dusseldorf, the Altstadt is an absolutely must.

Königsallee "Kö"

Dusseldorf's internationally best known trademark is the Königsallee (short: 'Kö'). Germany's most sophisticated mile is considered as one of the world's grand luxurious boulevards.

The "Kö", is the street to go shopping in Düsseldorf. Some of the most reputated jewelry shops, designer labels and galleries have their stores here, such as Cartier, Aigner, Lacoste, Eickhoff, Jil Sander, Benneton, Gucci, Esprit, Laurel, Armani, Chanel, Escada, Hugo Boss, Joop, Kookaï, Prada and many more.

The boulevard with its generous stretch of water down the center was commissioned from the court master builder Huschberger in the place of the existing fortifications, when the area was redeveloped in 1802.

The excavation of a moat of 31 m width and 5 m depth required the Düssel river to be diverted to provide the nececessary water. Two wooden bridges crossing the moat were provided with toll huts. On the suggestion of the landscape architect Weyhe, trees were planted alongside, and the boulevard was later on named Kastanienallee (Chestnut Avenue).

After the legendary incident when horse manure was thrown at King Friedrich Wilhelm IV. (1848), it was renamed Königsallee as a gesture of goodwill.

Media Harbor in Dusseldorf

Famous architects such as Frank O. Gehry, David Chipperfield, Joe Coenen, Steven Holl and Claude Vasconi have made the MediaHarbour a meeting point for connoisseurs of architecture from all over the world. Just a few years ago, a gloomy atmosphere emanated from disused storehouses. Now, renowned companies from the fields of advertising and the arts, communications and TV production have established their offices. TV firms such as WDR (West German broadcasting station), QVC and CNN Germany. The panorama restaurant at the top of the Rhine Tower, which is nearby (unfortunately, not visible on the above photo), affords an ideal view of the city and the state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia at its foot as well as the media harbour. Next to it is Düsseldorf's new landmark, the Stadttor (city gate), which was awarded a prize as 'Europe's best office building' and is also the seat of the State Chancellery.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Dusseldorf by night

Dusseldorf explained by Wikipedia

Düsseldorf is the capital city of the German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Located on the Rhine near Cologne, it is one of the main centres of the densely populated Rhine-Ruhr area.

Düsseldorf is not only widely known as a stronghold of the German advertising and fashion industry. In the last few years the city on the Rhine has become a top tele-communications center in Germany. Today, there are 18 internet providers located in the capital of North-Rhine Westphalia. With two of the four big German providers of mobile frequencies, D2 Vodafone and E-Plus, Düsseldorf is leading the German mobile phone market. This pioneer position is being demonstrated by the presence of the many foreign trading centers in Düsseldorf such as NTT, Ericsson, Nokia or GTS.

Along with the abundant advertising industry, these companies serve as an important motor for the new economy. There are 400 advertising agencies in Düsseldorf, among them three of the big ones in Germany: BBDO Group, Publicis Group and Grey Group. A number of affiliates of foreign agencies have to be mentioned as well, such as Ogilvy & Mather, Dentsu, Hakuhodu, Digital District and DDB. Against this background so many internet agencies in Düsseldorf have their roots in the classical world of advertising.

The city of Düsseldorf plays an important role in the financial world: some 170 national and international financial institutions and about 130 insurance agencies are based here. Furthermore, one of the biggest German stock exchanges is located here. The print media, represented in Düsseldorf by around 200 publishing houses, have adjusted to the requirements of various fields of the economy - online and offline. Important newspapers and journals such as Handelsblatt, Wirtschaftswoche, Deutsches Wirtschaftsblatt, VDI nachrichten or DM are being published in the city on the Rhine. Almost all of these papers are available online on the Internet. Further, Genios, the daughter of publishing group Handelsblatt runs Germany's biggest online economic database from here. Renowned film making companies, such as Germany's biggest cinema enterprise the Riech-Group and TV-channels such as CNN, NBC Giga and QVC have made Düsseldorf a city of moving images.

The "Kö", which stands short for Königsallee (King's Avenue) is the street to go shopping in Düsseldorf. Some of the most reputated jewelry shops, designer labels and galleries have their stores here, such as Cartier, Aigner, Lacoste, Eickhoff, Jil Sander, Benneton, Gucci, Esprit, Laurel, Armani, Chanel, Escada, Hugo Boss, Joop, Kookaï, Prada and many more.

Dusseldorf along the Rhine River

Parts of Dusseldorf


I am moving to Dusseldorf, Germany in late December 2005. I do not speak German, but I will be attending German language courses. I am excited about my new life in Germany! I am going to be updating this blog with photos and writings about my adventures in Dusseldorf. It will be interesting. So stay TUNED!