02 December 2015

Tuebingen's Chocolate Festival as seen in the Market Square

 

2015 marks the 10th year of the Chocolate Festival in Tuebingen - the largest in Germany, welcoming 250-300,000 visitors (depending on who you listen to!).

 

We walked into the old town and this is an artist we saw who paints in chocolate and oil.  Dorte (or Frau Schetter as is the usual German reference) was just beginning to paint a large bauble made from marzipan and sugar that must have been at least 50cm in diameter.  She creates depth and texture, using the chocolate as a sepia-like medium.

 

 

Castor and Pollux both went back after lunch to participate in the Ritter chocolate workshop to make their own iconic square.  If you have a chance to do this I'd recommend it.  The presenter did a wonderful job giving a brief talk on what chocolate is made from, where the cacoa is grown; and she allowed me in to translate for the boys.  After that there are slightly funny but serious instructions given by another facilitator about how to make your chocolate square down to the licking of the spoon!   The mixing, pouring and settling all happens very, very fast. You then decorate your cardboard packaging while the chocolate sets and is returned to you.  It cost EUR3 which is donated to a children's charity. So worth it for the experience. 

The girls chose instead to buy the equivalent in chocolate squares from the Ritter retail tent and wander around the festival themselves for a time.  My only regret was not realising that if you bought 10 chocolate squares you received a special bag - we bought 10 between us but not on one receipt.  The bag would have been useful for all the groceries we carry every day or two.

 

There was a super cool stand, A.M. Schoko (Venice, Italy) that was filled with rusted-looking products as in a junk yard.  We were told it took 10 hours to set up and that didn't account for the making of the products.  They really took an idea and ran with it which made them memorable alongside their Italian energy!

 

 

 

 

Another stand that allowed you to watch what they were making was Beckers with their chocolateROOM.  The children were fascinated by what looked similar to mallowpuff (CHOCOlino) being made and if they could have would have licked the plastic windows on the outside of the tent to get a taste!  We also learned more about the term given to locals who are native to the area here, derived from the name given to grape growers, and the confection dedicated to them - Gôga-Guts'le.

 

Beckers - dipping of the CHOCOlino

 

The stand however that stood out for their kindness and humanity, was Cioccolateria Veneziana (Venica, Italy).  If you pass by them in the Neue Strasse please consider supporting them.

03 November 2015

With thanks to A W Holder

 

One of the things that you are advised to take with you is a copy of your important documents: Passports, driver's licenses, marriage certificate, birth certificates etc and to keep them in a safe place.

Being that there are 7 of us, the number of A4 pages increases rapidly, and I wanted a way to keep them crumple-free and fold-proof for the journey.

That's when I hit upon the idea of rolling them and stashing them in a rigid plastic tube instead of the standard cardboard paper towel tube, so it could be thrown in the bottom of our packs without fear of damage.

I didn't know how I was going to materialise the idea so headed to a plumbing supply store, feeling a little diminutive for asking for help with such a concept, but was heartily surprised to be served by a lovely woman who was so supportive and took service to the nth degree.  

She counted out 25 sheets of paper from the printer and we took this with us to the pipe section to see what would work.  I conceded that the 18-23mm that I thought I could use wouldn't have been big enough and settled for 43mm (called a 40mm as this is it's internal diameter); and that is with rolling the long edge of the paper around itself instead of the short one too.  Remember that once inside the tube, the paper expands to fit snuggly.

One of the great things about going to a plumbing supply instead of a hardware store is that I didn't have to buy 5 - 6 metres of the pipe.  1m was enough to get out the 2 tubes that I wanted and I ended up getting a bonus tube too which I can see being used for colouring pages in Kita's carry-on bag.  The ends themselves were the expensive part.

Each tube weighs less than 250g (including documents) which is the average weight of a t-shirt or two.  In some ways it is a bit heavy when you have to consider that you carry every single gram but in the long run for the length of time we would like to be away and the importance of having the documentation handy if we need it it's a sacrifice that makes sense.

For those of you keen to make one for yourself you will need:

  • length of pvc piping (the long edge of an A4 piece of paper is 29.7cm so I allowed for 1 extra cm and cut ours at 31cm)
  • 2 end caps
  • Some sort of hack-saw blade if you are buying a longer length of pipe and cutting it down (I used a Leatherman!)
  • Some sand-paper for coarsely sanding off the cut ends (I used 150 grit)

We decided not to glue one end cap on one end and rather leave both 'loose' (which when you put them on they are not!) so that if there was an issue of getting anything out of the tube we could push from one end and pull from the other.  Technically they are not water-tight and I could add some teflon tape perhaps to one end or the other but I am happy with the way they are.  The ends need a bit of torque/twist to get them off but that's good for something that may get caught on other objects in one's pack and you don't want the ends popping off randomly anyway.

It was a great feeling to be able to go from concept to creation in one day, and have another item barely hit our still-very-long to-do list before it was crossed off.

20 October 2015

 

SAFE TRAVEL

We've already mentioned Safe Travel before, but it is still one of the top tips for Kiwis travelling overseas for advisories, general information and their itinerary registration service.

 

AIRPORT

For those for whom it has been a while since they travelled, there is no longer a Departure Tax payable at the airport.  This has been levied onto the airlines (who undoubtedly add it into their fares to you!).

Luggage trolleys are free to use in the terminal.  

 

WINZ

Contact Work & Income New Zealand (WINZ) if you or someone in your family are receiving any form of benefit or allowance before travelling overseas.

 

INSURANCE

Take out travel insurance when (or before) you book your tickets.  You don't necessarily need to get it through a travel agent either - you can use any broker or insurance agent.  Shop around!

If you have left a house, possessions or a vehicle behind, make sure the insurance payments continue for those in your absence. [NB your home may need continued use of electricity to power your burglar alarm.]

 

CARRY-ON LIQUIDS

Remember that you may only have liquids to the volume of 100ml each in your carry on, that must fit into a 1l plastic bag (or 20cm x 20cm).  You will find the definition of liquids quite broad.  Everything else should go in your checked-in baggage.  This also means water bottles or containers.  You must empty them prior to customs clearance and may re-fill them after that.

Totally prohibited items are listed on the Aviation Security website.

 

MEDICATION

If you have prescriptions, keep them in their original containers; and have a letter from your doctor listing their names and current dosage.

 

MONEY

Decide how you are going to spend your money.

  • Cash
  • Credit card
  • ATM (debit) card
  • Money transfer
  • Prepaid money wallet (like a pre-loaded credit card)
  • Travellers cheques
  • New bank account in the country you are travelling to

Each will have particular rules and fees which makes comparing one option to the next less than simple.  Consider leaving some money in a NZ bank account for ongoing payments and emergencies.

Inform your credit card company of your impending departure and which countries you will visit.  That way you don't have a transaction declined as it is out of your usual spending habits.

 

TELECOMMUNICATIONS

How are you going to keep in touch with family, friends, colleagues or clients?

See whether you can take you cellular phone with you overseas and what it may cost to continue your NZ plan; or whether it is compatible with the country cellular network where you are going so you can pick up a new SIM there.

Do you need to take a calling card from NZ or buy one overseas?

Will you email folks or update a social media account instead?

 

IDP

Do you need an International Drivers Permit?  If so, then visit the Automobile Association for the forms to fill in, and where you can lodge your payment for this service.  It will be sent to you via post.  [There is an extra charge for processing an IDP application online or via posting it in.]

 

WILLS

Are your wills up to date?  Do you need to leave someone a Power of Attorney over all or part of your affairs?  

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