Tag Archives: Germans in Orange County

#VegasStrong

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#VEGASSTRONG

I have been to Las Vegas countless times.  My first time was when I was 15 during a three week road trip with my family. I will never forget how I was asked to leave the bar my parents were having a drink at because I was under 21. I started crying because I didn’t understand why I wasn’t allowed to sit down, and so my first initial impression about Vegas wasn’t the most welcoming in my eyes.

But then I learned about the “casino for kids” at the Treasure Island hotel. From that moment on I would spent the majority of my time over there while the adults had their fun at the “real” casino, and I made amends with Vegas.

The next time I came to Sin City was when I was over 21 and able to join in all what the adult fun had to offer.  I have been to the major clubs, have danced to the music of incredible DJs playing on stage, and had the occasional “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” experience.  But this last time was very different from any other trip I took out there.

In my last post, I wrote about my friends coming to visit from Germany, who I met up with in San Francisco. When we were planning this trip way back in the beginning of 2017, we decided to fly down to Vegas for a couple of days, since my one friend had never been.  We had planned to leave on Thursday, October 7.  Even in our wildest dreams, none of us could have ever imagined what happened only five days before our trip to Las Vegas.

On Sunday, October 1st, the deadliest shooting massacre in modern U.S. history happened, where more than 50 people lost their lives.  I had watched the reports on TV news; I had seen the videos on social media, where you could hear the horrific gunshots the shooter fired on those innocent concert goers; I had read the stories about the victims. But nothing can prepare you for what you are going to see when you are at the actual place.

The first night of our arrival in San Francisco, we talked about what happened. We weren’t scared of going, but we were clearly in shock and unable to grasp such an event. Would it still be ok to visit a club and dance the night away? Would it be fine to have a couple drinks, celebrating our reunion after not seeing each other for two years? Would it be disrespectful to have fun at a place where such a tragedy took place only a few days before our arrival?

The morning of our flight to Las Vegas, I wasn’t able to function well; partly because I didn’t sleep the night before and we had a very early flight, and partly because I was nervous about what to expect.  The moment the plane touched down in Vegas, we could witness the aftermath of the tragedy: we spotted the broken windows of the hotel room. It felt surreal to actually see a crime scene in real life rather than on TV.

The view of the broken windows followed us along all the way from the airport to the hotel. The sight definitely impacted our moods, but we still wanted to make the best out of our time being in Las Vegas. Since our room wasn’t ready at the time we arrived, we decided on walking along the strip for a bit to find a breakfast place.

It was a nice warm day out, but the bulletins we saw along the strip made me chill.  Where tourists were usually being bombarded with bright light advertisements, people could read messages like “We’ve been there for you during the good times. Thank you for being there for us now.”

We walked past a restaurant that had a poster displayed in its window, mentioning that all first responders who were present at the time of the tragedy trying to help would receive a free meal.  Plastered along the streets was the hash tag #VegasStrong. Thank God for sunglasses in moments like this, because I was about to start crying whenever we passed one of those billboards or placards.

I can’t really describe the feelings that went through me during those three days.  My friends and I still enjoyed the warm weather and what the city has to offer, but it did make me feel guilty.  One night, we watched the amazing water show in front of the Bellagio hotel. A few steps further down from where we stood, people had built a memorial with candles, signs and flowers. All three of us grew quiet when we passed by it.

While we were reading the messages, a couple feet further down, two women dressed up as showgirls were trying to get tourists to take pictures with them. That is Vegas for you: no matter if during the good or the bad times, the city is still trying to give you what you came for: an escape out of everyday life.

We didn’t end up going to any clubs or shows this time rather than just relaxing by the pool, indulging in some good food, and exploring the city. At the end of our three day trip, Las Vegas bid farewell to us with the same scene it welcomed us: the view of the broken hotel windows.

It is really hard to grasp such a tragedy and witnessing the aftermath first hand. But it is also beautiful to see how a city stands strong and brings strangers together during hard times like this. #VegasStrong

Images: pixabay.com

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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte, is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes on her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.

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Cake Disaster Part Three

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CAKE DISASTER PART THREE

When I first decided to share my cake disaster, I didn’t intend to make a three part series out of it.  But when I started writing down this disastrous memory (I know I am a tad bit overly dramatic here), I realized that it would turn into a novel if I wouldn’t break it up.

Since my attention span doesn’t last too long and I personally get discouraged reading an article that is more than about half a page, I figured it would be best to split this story up (oh how I wish this really was just a fictional event and not a real-life experience.)  But anyways, let’s continue where I left of last time.

Luckily, my boss was very understanding of the situation and tried to calm my crying self down.  After all, I still had to go face the wedding planner and her entourage, trying to deliver a broken cake to them.  In that moment, I wish I was still a little kid whom it would be easily forgiven if it would have dropped a cake (maybe not a wedding cake, point taken, but who would give a wedding cake into a child’s hand anyways.)

I still had some driving time ahead of me before arriving at the venue, and I kept telling myself that somehow, the wedding staff would be empathetic and able to fix the cake.  Eventually, my tears had dried and I turned onto the windy road up to the Malibu Mountains.

The scenery was really beautiful: deserted windy roads, surrounded by meadows, the mountains, and wineries.  It took me a little to figure out the way to the venue, which made me arrive even later.  But that was the least problem I encountered that day.

Once I had securely parked my car I somehow managed to step out, still trying to convince myself that “everything would be fine.”  I carried the cake over to a table close by, where I then called the wedding planner.  She soon came walking over to me and spotted the disaster.  I explained the situation to her, hoping for the best.

It was no surprise that she wasn’t too thrilled about the situation.  She asked me in all seriousness if I could “just drive back, get the cake fixed, and bring it back.” I am sorry, lady, but it took me almost three hours to get there, and the cake would obviously not make it back in time.

So that option was crossed out quickly. I then suggested to her that maybe the florist would be able to do something about it.  The wedding planner was ok with that and directed me and the cake towards the main venue.

Unfortunately, it was very windy on this given day.  I had to walk really careful and slow, but I still felt the cake moving a tiny bit from the gust whirling around us.  I did manage to carry the cake over to the florist with no further incidents (thanks God.)

She inspected it and was not too happy about what she saw, but she wanted to give it a shot and sent me up to a small cottage with a kitchen where the cake was supposed to be stowed.

Again, I fought the gusty winds, balancing the cake on my hands.  Once I had reached the cottage and put the cake on a table, I let out a sigh of relief.  Relief that I didn’t drop it again, and relief that I was about to get out of this uncomfortable situation failry soon.

While waiting for the florist to make her way up, I looked around the room.  I saw wooden signs with the name of the bride and groom.  I felt horrible just imagining if it was my special day and I had to hear the news of a broken cake. I was quickly ripped away from that thought when the florist entered the room.

She kneeled in front of the cake, inspecting it while she bombarded me with questions and comments: “Why did you not bring cake tools?” “Aren’t you a baker?” “THIS is the cake they wanted? Looks so simple, you can barely see the colors,” and so on and so on.  I patiently and uncomfortably answered her everything, stating that I am just a coordinator and neither a delivery person or baker.  She eventually set me free by saying that she got this and that I could leave.

I wanted to scream my relief out, but instead I just walked quietly and fast down the meadow towards my car, jumped in it and drove off.  I called my boss and gave her the rundown of what just happened at the venue.  We both put it down as a learning experience and moved on from it.  I couldn’t wait to be back in Orange County, join my friends for my girlfriend’s birthday and get a drink in my hand.

The whole trip took me seven hours.  Seven hours!  That was a clear turning point for me.  From that moment on I did not fulfill any more deliveries.  And, to be honest, I think my boss liked it that way, too.

Images: pixabay.com
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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte, is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes on her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.

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The Tale of the Traveling Cake Continues

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THE TALE OF THE TRAVELING CAKE CONTINUES

It was a beautiful Saturday in April of 2017, when one particular wedding cake and I started the journey from Redondo Beach into the deep Malibu Canyon.  My boss and I figured that if I left the bakery with the cake at 9 a.m. it would give me plenty of time to arrive at the venue at the appointed 11 a.m.

As we all know, traveling through the LA area usually consists of sitting in traffic at least at some point, if not more.   But since it was a Saturday, I had high hopes that the traffic Gods were on my side.

Unfortunately, they were not.  In fact, they wanted to test my patience extra hard that day with a three-lane-closure at LAX due to a crash that involved a burned-out vehicle.  My hopes of a punctual arrival diminished from minute to minute, and while the cars in front of me still weren’t moving, I decided to give the wedding planner a heads-up about my delay.

Thankfully, she was not too stressed about it (or she was just good at hiding her real feelings). It felt like an eternity, but eventually cars started moving again, and slowly but surely I was ready to continue my route while the cake was still peacefully sitting in its box.

Now is probably a good time to tell you a little bit about the “transport box,” just for an overall better understanding of the situation.  This particular box was actually a bigger paper carton with no lid.  The cake was securely fastened onto a round shaped cake board, and then just pushed into the box, the open side facing my dashboard.  To my defense, it was not my idea to position the cake like this on my passenger seat.  You might know now where this story is going.

I was finally able to get out of the whole traffic mess and to speed up to a decent pace; wanting to make sure I hopefully don’t encounter anymore delays. I kept driving on the 405 north for a while before my GPS told me to merge onto the US 101.

I merged onto the outer right lane, slowing down a bit but still holding a steady speed, about to approach the loop towards the 101 freeway.  Unsuspecting, I made my way around it, when suddenly the car in front of me hit the brakes hard, resulting me into doing the same thing.

I knew right away what terrible maneuver I just had done.  While pushing my foot the hardest I could onto my breaks, I heard a swoosh sound.  I looked over to my right side, and in a matter of seconds, I witnessed the precious 12-piece cake slipping out of the box and straight onto the floor.

I will not be able to tell you verbatim what I was exactly yelling out at the moment since it consists of a series of swear words.  What I can tell you is that I started to cry hysterically.

I couldn’t contemplate what was worse: the fact that the cake actually dropped on the floor or that I had to call my boss and tell her about it. Well, since there was no way around it, I picked up my phone and anxiously dialed her number.

When she heard that I was crying, she instantly knew that something really bad must have happened. To my relief, she was very understanding and tried to calm me down, which made me sob even more.

Unfortunately, I still had to deliver the cake, hoping that the florist would be able to cover up the damages. “At least the cake wasn’t supposed to be the one eaten,” is what I kept telling myself to calm me down and to prepare me from having to face a pretty uncomfortable situation, but more on that next time. As for now, feel free to enjoy a graphic image of the described disaster.

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Images: pixabay.com, Anne-Kathrin Schulte
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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte, is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes on her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.


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Helau and Alaaf – Carnival Tradition in Germany

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HELAU AND ALAAF – CARNIVAL TRADITION IN GERMANY

This upcoming Thursday, certain cities in Germany, including my hometown Dusseldorf, are going to be crowded with thousands of people – adults as well as children – dressed up in costumes. Welcome to the yearly tradition of Carnival.  For those of you who have never heard of this festivity before, I would describe it as a mixture of Halloween (minus the scary costumes) plus Mardi Gras.

Due to the fact that I grew up in a so-called Carnival central city, I basically was born into the tradition.  Today I can gladly say that I don’t miss it one bit, but back when I was living in Europe I did feel obligated to participate.  So what does Carnival consist of?

This time of the year, which is also named the 5th season, actually starts in November on 11-11 at 11:11 a.m., but the peak of the tradition happens around late February/ beginning of March on a Thursday.  That day called “Altweiber” (old women), it is common at work for women to cut off the men’s ties with scissors and then celebrate on the streets and at bars till late at night.

The highlight of the Carnival celebration is held on Monday with the Rose Monday parades, which are very popular in the cities of Dusseldorf, Cologne, and Mainz.  The 5th season usually ends that following Wednesday, called Ash Wednesday.

To sum it up, Carnival is one of the biggest events celebrated in Germany with parades, costume balls, and street parties.  There are two popular cries that you would be hearing a lot during this time: Helau in Dusseldorf and Mainz, and Alaaf in Cologne, Bonn, and Aachen.

I personally enjoyed this celebration more when I was a little kid in kindergarten and elementary school.  I mean, what kid doesn’t like to dress up.  My favorite costume of all time used to be a cat.  Cats were my favorite animal back then, so luckily for my parents they could recycle my costume every year and didn’t have to get a new one.

Being an adult, I never found it too appealing to put on a costume and get drunk on the streets, even though I participated a couple times.

What changed my perception a little bit was when I actually joined a show dance group that performed during masquerade balls.  I received this opportunity when I was living with my sister in a very small town in the mountains.

A friend of a friend happened to be one of the dancers, and since I loved dancing and had been doing it throughout my entire life, I saw the chance to become part of the group through that connection since they were in need of an additional performer.

For two years I was a member of this group.  And what can I say, I loved it.  I loved rehearsing for the show, performing on stage, and participating in tournaments.  But I still wasn’t too fond about everything else that included Carnival.

Once it was clear that I would be moving to the United Stands, I obviously had to end my time with this group.  It was a fun two years, but I am not missing it much nowadays.  But for everyone else who is a great fan of Carnival, have fun out there these next couple of days!

Image: pixabay.com
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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte, is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes on her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.

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Short Trip to Key West – So Worth It

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Short Trip to Key West – So Worth It

While being in Miami, I couldn’t pass the opportunity to make a short day trip four hours south to Key West.  I read beforehand that the drive all the way down along several little islands was supposed to be beautiful.  With a plan in my head and full of excitement, I woke up early on the third day of my Miami trip, ready to hit the road before rush hour.

The drive definitely did not disappoint, and I can only recommend this tour to anyone planning to visit South Florida.  Visitors have the option to either travel down with organized bus tours or to go on their own.  I didn’t want to be reliable on anybody else and also have the option to leave the island anytime I feel like it.  Therefore, the better option for me was to travel down myself.

The drive was gorgeous.   Each of the small islands on the way down possessed its own charm, and I stopped on several for a short break to take pictures.  The only thing that was missing was the turquoise blue water.  I held the belief that, due to the proximity to the Caribbean Islands, the water was supposed to be way lighter than it actually was.  Other than that, the views and scenery were amazing.

After about four hours, I arrived on Key West.  I didn’t get to drive around the whole island.  Instead, I made my way directly to the downtown area.  Parking was at first a little difficult.  I intended to park in the surrounding neighborhoods for free, but didn’t find a spot.  I ended up parking at a parking garage of a hotel right by the water.  The price was not bad and nothing close to horrendous parking prices in South Beach Miami.

I first thought about renting a bike to explore the island.  The streets were small and there was a lot of car and bike traffic, so I decided to rather walk.  I instantly felt the relaxing island vibe and Caribbean flair, which is displayed in the food, architecture, and layout of Key West.  I had a fantastic time on the island and will let some images speak for itself rather than writing a novel.

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Images: © Anne-Kathrin Schulte
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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte, is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes on her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.

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