Katie’s Birthday

So today was Katie’s birthday. It was actually pretty cold for an August day – especially compared to our normal South Carolina standards for August. We celebrated at a local restaurant that specializes in Crepes (savory and sweet). I surprised Katie with tickets to Paris in December along with a little spending money for shopping in Paris.

Happy birthday Katie!


First Trip to Brazil

Soon after Mathias left to go off to College for his first semester at Vanderbilt (super proud of him), Morgan also hopped on a plane and traveled to Brazil for his new project in Sorocaba with GM building the front corner modules for a light duty truck (GMI700). It is a long flight to Brazil from Germany but well worth it for the extremely friendly people, good food (lots of all-you-can-eat) and delicious Caipirinhas (Cachaça, Limes, and lots of sugar).

After arriving from our almost 12 hour flight, the first thing that we were presented was the insane traffic in Sao Paulo. The local motorcycle riders take their lives into their hands to avoid the traffic by whizzing between the cars. Just on the ride to the plant from the Airport (which takes you directly through Sao Paulo) we saw 3 accidents. Our driver mentioned that on average 2-3 motorcycle riders die every day in Sao Paulo. Most of the rich residents of the area avoid the traffic completely by using helicopters. Sao Paulo has one of the highest densities of heli-pads in the world.

Being right after the loss of Brazil to Germany we tried to not mention the World Cup. Some of my German colleagues could not help it though and the Brazilians took it with grace. Since we were south of the Equator it was rather cold and rainy (which just added more traffic).

One of the best parts of the trip was the churrascaria which is the Brazilian barbecue. It is rodizio style so you eat until you can’t fit any more – except for maybe some papaya creme.

Overall we didn’t get to see much of Sorocaba and Sao Paulo due to long work days and lots of meetings. Hopefully there will be time on future trips to explore the area.

It was the first of many trips to come over the next year.

The Big Driving Trip – Munich & Going Home – July 31st/August 1st

In the morning we took Stephan to return some books to his school and then by a bakery in town for some breakfast. Once we got on the road to Munich we stopped by the Weiskirche in Steingaden on Siegfried’s recommendation. It is a pilgrimage site because it is said that tears were seen coming from a wooden statue of the Scourged Savior in 1738. Since then many who have prayed in front of the statue of Jesus on the altar have claimed that people have been miraculously cured of their diseases.

Because we needed to return the car by Friday at 5pm up in Hannover, we had to cut out most of our time in Munich and Nuremberg completely. We arrived in Munich around lunch time and went straight to BMW World. Unfortunately we couldn’t do a plant tour (you have to book in advance, especially in the summer) but the guys enjoyed seeing the cars on display in the museum.

We picked up our friend Daniel Schiefer when we got out of work, parked our car at his apartment (he was nice enough to let us stay with him!), and hoped on the U-Bahn to see a little of the town. We enjoyed a beer in the Englischer Garten, which is even larger than New York’s Central Park, then walked through the park seeing the Monopteros, the Chinesischer Turn, and the surfers on one of the artificial streams flowing through the Garten. We did a little more walking around town seeing the Old Town Hall, New Town Hall, and Marienplatz before ending the night at the Augustiner Biergarten (which is pretty much a requirement when you are in Munich). We looked at this visit as an overview and we’re planning to make it back again sometime to get to do all the touristy things we wanted to do. 🙂

Friday morning we got on the road early since we needed to return the rental car before 5pm. We did stop over at an antique store – Antikhandel Döllinger – on the way back. I’d been checking out online for months after buying a cute coffee grinder from them. We ended up buying a wooden water bucket (we use as an umbrella stand) and a painting that has seen better days (some water damage to the matting and the frame).. so it is more a project we hope to someday get around to.  We had a long 6.5 hr drive from Munich back to Osnabruck via Hanover (there was a lot of construction on the autobahn) but we got home safe and sound.  Poor Morgan had to drive the (almost) 30000 km route through 4 countries all by himself because the rental we got was a manual. Overall it was an unforgettable trip!