Category: Abroad Living

1st Day of Oktoberfest

So I headed to Oktoberfest today with my neighbor Bernie.  I should have known Greg was going to bail on me when he said he would meet me there at 13:30.   The wether was perfect not too hot, not too cold, no rain and not too many people- just yet that is…  We got there and walked around before meeting the Munich International Ski Club with our Box section Hacker Tent.  The tents are amazing, huge and hold 9000 people.  It is crazy they take 2 months to build, 3 weeks of festivities and then another 2 months to take apart.  Over 8 million people will come to Munich and I think it is 6 million masses of beer and 3 million chickens are consumed in the 3 weeks of Oktoberfest.  We joined 80 of our closest ski buddies for Mass biers, 1/2 chickens, dancing and singing.  Greg finally shows up to make an appearance for 15 minutes and then said he was going on a quick walk and never came back.  Bernie joined me and we enjoyed the next 4 hours.  After feeling quite drunk we headed home so we can be productive at work tomorrow and not be too drunk. 
Let me give you a little history lesson on Oktoberfest-  Crown Prince Ludwig, later to become King Ludwig I, was married to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on 12 October 1810. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the happy royal event. The fields were renamed Theresienwiese ("Theres’a Fields") to honor the Crown Princess, although the locals have since abbreviated the name simply to "Wiesn". Horse races in the presence of the royal family marked the close of the event that was celebrated as a festival for the whole of Bavaria. The decision to repeat the horse races in subsequest years gave rise to the tradition of Oktoberfest.  In 1811, an added feature to the horse races was the first Agricultural Show, designed to boost Bavarian agriculture. The horse races, which were the oldest – and at one time – the most popular event of the festival are no longer held today. But the Agricultural Show is still held every three years during the Oktoberfest on the southern part of the festival grounds.  In the first few decades, the choices of amusements were sparse. In 1818, the first carousel and two swings were set up. Vistitors were able to quench their thirst at small beer stands, which grew rapidly in number. In 1896 the beer stands were replaced by the first beer tents and halls set up by the enterprising landlords with the backing of the breweries. The remainder of the festival site was taken up by a fun-fair. The range of carousels offered was already increasing rapidly in the 1870’s as the fairground trade continued to grow and develope in Germany.  Enough history… Here are a few pictures from the day.


Christmas in Soell and Winter Party

Okay, so I am 6 months late on this entry.  With finally graduating from my MBA, I now have a life again.  So I am doing my blog catch up.  So over the winter holiday’s we had our annual Munich Holiday Party- this year we had about 45 packed into our tiny 3 room apartment.  We went through about 20 bottles of win and a case or two of beer.  Our crazy friends stayed till about 2:30AM and then headed out dancing till 6AM, crazy people!  The funniest was watching a bunch of expats (Spanish, British, Russian, Austrian, Croatian, Irish and Auzzies) and Germans trying to play Scene-IT with American Movies. 
After our party, Greg and I headed to Austria for Skiing and Snowboarding for the Christmas holiday.  Well, Greg’s great idea in saving money got us a pension that had lovely pictures on the bathroom showing us how to clean the toliet and shower. (I Know..)  Also, the conditions were so great that it rained almost all of the trip and the most fun was sledding down the 3.5KM sledding trail (which was a lot of fun!).  The town was cute and we spent most evenings at a pub listening to a dutch band seeing covers.  We became friends with a dutch family for some reason folks from Netherlands love Soell.  Here are a few pictures of the fun event…  I give Greg points for trying to schedule a great skiing holiday but the location and hotel were a little lack luster. 
In December we also headed out with the Munich International Ski Club on several trips.  Our favorite trip to Solden occurred first weekend in December and was brilliant.  Great snow, gondola walking distance from our pension.  Our pension with sauna and great breakfast.  We also headed to Austria for several day trips that were fantastic.  The Alps are great over the winter!

Summers in Munich, what a tough life

Well we are in middle of the summer in Munich.  As you can see from pictures below and in the photo album life is real tough.  We head to the English Garden for frisbee, scrabble, reading in the sun or sitting having a beer in the biergarten.  We head down to the Isar and enjoy some drinks at the Strand Bar.   We take a nice 55km bike ride around Starnberg See and a dip in the lake.  There are lovely outdoor concerts- we saw Eric Clapton, the Germans were a little too nervous to stand-up and dance until the very last song.  Come on over and visit and have a beer and watch the people in the park. 

Good-bye Stretch

It must be the month of moving on.  Yesterday, we joined our new Munich Ski Club friend Stretch for his farewll BAR CRAWL.  He is an animal as you know those Brits and how they can drink.  He was sceduled for 9 biergartens from 2pm-???  We made our exit after 4.  Here are a couple pictures.  We will miss you Stretch but look foward to having a friend in Portsmith!  You will have to take us sailing!   You got to love his new outfit the gang go him for a German Farewell Gift!

Good-bye Noah

So we are sad to see Noah head back to the USA.  Happy for him and his family to get to go home and be back in the East, but now one less US friend in Munich.  Thanks to Noah for giving us some insights and dos and don’ts in Germany.  Our first DB bike experience was with Noah on our first visitation trip to decide if we were really going to do this.  Now we are five months in and loving it.  We will miss you Noah! 

US Friends come for a visit

So our buddies Lance and Charlotty came for a visit this week.  We met Lance and Charlotty in San Francisco when I worked for the SFUSD, Lance was the best Server Manager and Charlotty the most amazing Executive Assistant you could ask for.  They later got married after I left the school district and Greg and I headed to Portland, Oregon.  Now they both live in Washington DC.  During their trip here we headed to Marienplatz, Duetsches Museum, Hofbrauhaus, Skiing in the Alps and a trip to Neuschwanstein Castle in Fussen.  It was great to see them and yesterday they headed on to Zurich, Amsterdam, and Berlin.  Have a great trip and here are a few pictures below and in the picture libary of their time here in Munich.

Happy New Year 2008!

Well we rang in the New Year will a few of our friends at our place.  It was a nice little crowd and we enjoyed some good Italian eats and Presseco.  The Germans love their fire works as every grocery store sold crazy amounts of fireworks and at midnight our neighborhood went crazy in the streets.  Even the Chinese Restaurant Owner Mr. Lee was having a ball letting off fireworks.  Here are a couple pictures from the evening festivities.  Happy New Year and we are looking forward to our first full year in Munich. 

Happy Holidays from the Stempsons

 Well we are a little slow in getting our Holiday Cards out this year, so I decided to try my hand at making a movie.  So below is a low bandwidth movie on our European Travels thus far.  We will be send DVDs home that is of DVD widescreen quality-forwarning it is 25 minutes long.  Enjoy and we are loving Munich and European life-hope you come to visit.  For family and friends you can check out the video on our shared SkyDrive at  

Three Years and We Are Still Married!

So we made it to our three year wedding anniversary two weeks ago.  Greg was wonderful and planned our first trip to the ALPs to Solden in Austria.  It was amazing!  The village was so cute and the snow was great!  We had a fun trip with 60 of our new best friends from the Munich Ski Club.  We have to admit we spent most of our time with a bunch of british blokes that could really drink!  We saw the glacier and had amazing snowboarding expereince and listened to a band on top of the mountain.   We were exhausted but had a great time.  Our pension was great and we are really looking forward to the winter holiday on the slopes.  I go on vacation next Friday and we are ready to do several day trips and at least one that will include a SPA.  To see pictures of this trip you will have to visit my husband, Greg’s space-!FF01D44A3DEBF0!792/ Yes, we keep the Microsoft support in the family- everyone should have a Microsoft SPACE isn’t it the greatest!  The picture below is of us enjoying a beer and Gluhwein at the top of the glacier in a great little pub with a very traditional Austrian spirit and a picture of the mountain.  

House Warming and Christmas Festivals

Well I am a little behind in my blogging.  So the first weekend of December we had our House Warming Party.  It was a fun fix of Expats, Toytown folks, Munich Ski Club Folks, Microsoft Folks, and our German Neighbors.  Never though 35 people could fit in our tiny little apartment.  Thanks to Alana, our Swedish friend who made us home made Glogg with a KICK!!!  Watch out a few cups of Swedish Glogg and you will be very happy all night. 
The following day after clean-up we headed to Tollwood and our first Christmas festival expereience.  It was fun, festive and we enjoyed more Gluhwein (German version of Glogg), it was not as strong as Alana’s but quite yummy.  We also tried Honey Wine for t he first time, that was very interesting a little too sweet for my taste. 
Check out photos of our House Warming and Tollwood in the album library.  A couple of my favorite pictures above.
The following weekend we experienced all the CHristmas festivals we headed to Marienplatz, then to Muchen Freiheit and then off to Chinesischer Turm.  We partook in lots of Gluhwein to stay warm as it was -5 degrees celcius-BURR COLD!!!!  We listened to some Christmas music and then saw lots of CHristmas crafts.  You will have to head to Chinesischer Turm and have a Munich Mug that has kangaroos ice skating- I had no idea Munich was known for Kangaroos.  We are looking forward to our friends Lance and Charlotty coming on Dec 28th to partake in the festivals and Alps…

Things to do in Munich

German Lessons

So I have executed my first German Lesson and this week will be my second class.  So all I can say is my tongue just doesn’t like to make some of the sounds required in the German language.  I also forgot why I am a Math/Science brain and not a language brain.  So as you travel to Munich some important sayings to learn, that I have learned so far:
Guten Morgen- Good morning
Danke- thanks
bitte- please
Kaffe- coffe
bier- beer
rot wein0 red wine
weiss wine- white wine
Ich heisse -My name is…
Buchstabieren Sie, Bitte- can you spell please
Woher Kommt- where do you come from
Ihre addresse?- what’s your address
and then of course your numbers:
0- null
1- eins
2- zweu
3- drei
4- vier
5- funf
6- sechs
7- sieben
8- acht
9- neun
10- zehn
There is your first lesson.  I will be back later this week with lesson two for you. 

What I’ve learned

Well, Greg and I have been in Munich for 1.5 months now and what have we learned… 
  • The U-bahn strikes during the work week and not the weekend and they are even civil and keep the airport train running. 
  • When going to the grocery store you must bring your own bags and pack your bags quickly; as the next person’s groceries will run into yours if you are not fast enough.
  • Not many places take credit cards bring plenty of cash.
  • Germans love to stare so get use to it.
  • In Russia, people love to cut in front of you while you have been waiting in line.
  • Bring all your over the counter drugs because they are impossible to find here- especially airborne and Nyquil 
  • Refrigerators are tiny, you must go shopping daily…  No more COSTCOs, which is a good thing I think…
  • In looking for an apartment most don’t have kitchens, light fixtures, not even a mirror in the bathroom.
  • Get use to no closets and having to buy them.
  • First day of Oktoberfest is CRAZY-DON’T DO IT!
  • Sunday is the perfect day to go visit the museums, they are only 1 EURO.
  • Get all your shopping done on Saturday, everything is closed on Sunday except the beer gardens and museums.
  • Get use to the only TV stations you can understand is MTV and CNN, I have found VOX to play German version of home improvement, cooking and survivor-very entertaining….

I have also been in more countries than in Munich.  I have visited Hungary, Romania, Ukriane, Russia, Lithuania, Greece, Poland, UK and Austria.  I am looking forward to December when I can actually be home a little more often, my only trip is to Latvia.  Its been a great adventure so far, the people are wonderful.  My team is amazing and Greg I are getting use to rental life again and living in less than 1000 square feet.  Maybe it is good that I travel so much!  Stay in touch- and see the pictures of our latest trips- Oktoberfest, Russia, Around Munich….

Moving to Munich

Hi all-
I am excited to move on to my next chapter.  I have accepted a role with Microsoft Central Eastern Europe.  Please see the CEE album to see my new team and my first team meeting in Prague.  It is an amazing region, the fastest growing GDP in the world.  Microsoft is the number 1 employer in CEE.  It will be an amazing experience and I am looking foward in supporting my new team.  Let me know when you decide to come visit Munich, Germany.  Stempson Resort will be opening in September 2007!
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