Thursday, September 30, 2021

Spaghetti Ice Cream

After surviving the movie about a horse and bad popcorn we ticked off another item on the list.  After dinner we went to the local ice cream shop in Friedrichshagen for spaghetti ice cream.

Spaghettieis is a thing in Germany.  It's vanilla ice cream pressed into the shape of noodles with strawberry sauce and grated white chocolate or nuts to mimic marinara sauce and parmesan cheese.

There's also a "carbonara" version for adults made with eierlikör (strong German eggnog type liqueur).

Overall pretty good.  I wonder why we don't have this in Czechland.

Here's a short video I found on YouTube that talks all about Spaghettieis.


Wednesday, September 29, 2021

A Film About a Horse

One of the things on Tünde's to-do list was to go to the local theatre and see Ostwind.  It's a movie about a girl and a horse.  It's actually the fifth and final film in a series but fortunately I didn't need to see the first four films to catch on to the story.  A film about a girl and a horse.  Oh the things I do for my goddaughter. 

While not really caring a whole lot about the film we would see I was more excited to get some popcorn.  I ordered popcorn with butter and salt and the woman at the concession stand looked at me like I had three eyeballs.  Apparently in Germany, you can't get popcorn with butter and salt.  Here popcorn is only sweet.  It's not like kettle corn.  It's just sweet.  Yuck! I was not a fan.  At least Claudia and Tünde didn't have to worry about me eating all of the popcorn.

I found the movie trailer on YouTube for those of you interested in what the film was like.

©Constantin Film

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Schöneberg, Berlin

Back in the 1920's Berlin was the Gay Capital of Europe.  The world's first gay magazine even began in Berlin back in 1896.  The Schöneberg district, near Nollendorfplatz, has long been the gay district of Berlin.  Long before the Castro in San Francisco or Dupont Circle in Washington, DC, Schöneberg was the first gay village.

Today it's mostly filled with bars, restaurants, cafe's, and shops but there are are few historical sights to be found.

The Eldorado was a popular drag bar back in the 1920s and Marlene Dietrich was a regular here.

The Mangus pharmacy is named after Magnus Hirschfeld, who's Institute for the Science of Sexuality, was the world's first gay-rights organisation that lobbied for legal representation. 

In 1982, a plaque was put up at the Nollendorfplatz underground station to commemorate the murder of gays and lesbians during the Third Reich.

In a nearby park I also came across an AIDS memorial.

There are also stolpersteine, stumbling stones, to remember people who were deported and murdered by the Nazis.

On the lighter side, at Nollendorfstaße 17, there's a memorial plaque on the house that Christopher Isherwood lived from 1929 to 1933.  His novel Goodbye to Berlin inspired the musical Cabaret. I  had to get a selfie of me in front of the building holding my copy of Christopher and His Kind.

In 2011, Christopher and His Kind was released as a film.  Great film and highly recommended.  You can actually find the entire film on YouTube but here's the movie trailer.

Nollendorfplatz is even home to Berlin's only gay Christmas market.

Here's a short video from DW's Meet the Germans series that talks about the status LGBT affairs in Germany.


Sunday, September 26, 2021

TV Tower Breakfast and the New Castle

One of Tünde's favourite things is the Berlin TV tower.  It's near Alexanderplatz, one of my favourite areas in Berlin, and it was built from 1965 to 1969 by the East German government.  You can't miss the tower.  It is 368 metres (1207 feet) tall making it the tallest structure in Germany and the third-tallest in the EU.

This morning we went for breakfast.  Reservations are required and it was a bit pricey but it's not something that you would do all of the time.  

We had a table at the window and as the restaurant revolved we got to enjoy breakfast as we looked out across the entire city.

It was pretty cool.  Though again, not something that I would do again soon.  The munchkin loved it and that was the point.

Later we visited the new Berlin Palace.  The Berliner Scholß, also called the Humboldt Forum, is the new, old palace.  Construction of the original palace began in 1443 and was completed in 1894.  It used to be one of the city's biggest buildings.  Allied bombings in 1945 damaged the palace.  In 1950, the East Germany government demolished what was left of the palace and in its place, in 1976, built the Palest der Republik, the Palace of the Republic, which was the DDR's central government building.

After German reunification, the Palace of the Republic was torn down in 2009.  Mostly due to the 5000 tonnes of asbestos within the building.  Germans were torn over what to do with the land.  Some wanted the original palace back while others wanted to see a rebuilt Palest der Republik, some wanted a park, etc.  Eventually it was decided that the original palace would make a return and reconstruction began in 2013.  The construction was completed in 2020 but with Covid I believe that the grand opening was delayed.  

Here's what the old Palest der Republik looked like.  I found a short video on YouTube that talked about its grand opening back in the 1970's.

©Footage Berlin - RBB Media

Here's a 43 minute documentary I found on YouTube that talks about the bringing the the new, old castle back.

©DW News

Saturday, September 25, 2021

It's Going to be a Busy Week

It's going to be a busy week.  I took an early train to Berlin this morning and got to Friedrichshagen this afternoon.

Tünde seems very excited that I'm here for a week.  She's already started the to-do list.  There's always a list.  So far, the preliminary list has 15 things on it but I'm sure that more items will get added to it.

 Some of the items on the list include taking her to school, eating spaghetti ice cream, visiting the new Berlin castle, having breakfast at the TV tower, going to the Volkskammer, visiting Teufelsberg, going to the theatre to see a movie about a horse, visiting her grandparents, postcards, eating döner kebab pizza and sushi.  

Not only am I already tired, I'm already stuffed because there's quite a bit of food related items on this list.  Let's see how the week goes.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Expat or Immigrant?

So what's the difference between an expat and an immigrant?  Both terms apply to people who live outside of their native country.  An expatriate, or expat for short, is usually someone living and/or working in a foreign country, usually temporarily and for work reasons.  Most of the time, expats either return to their native country, or move on to another, but not always.  When I would hear "expat" I would immediately think of American authors James Baldwin or Ernest Hemingway living in France.  

This blog is "Christopher's Expat Adventure" because I came to Brno for a two to three year gig with the intention of going back to the USA.  Then after five years I got permanent residency which meant that I could stay in Czechland without having to continually apply for new visas every couple of years.  In my head I was still an expat.

An immigrant, just like an expat, is a person who lives and/or works in a foreign country.  Usually with the intent to remain for good and not return back to their home country.  Now that I'm going to apply for Czech citizenship I suppose that I'm officially an immigrant.  Or am I an expat until I get Czech citizenship?

Quite often it seems that the difference between an expat and immigrant comes down to race, social class, economic status and country of origin.  Expats tend to describe usually white, educated, financially well off professionals working abroad while people working in less prestigious positions are immigrants or even migrant workers.  A well educated person from North Africa working in Europe would more likely be considered an immigrant rather than an expat.

Someone from the Philippines working as a maid in Hong Kong would not be considered an expat.  She most likely wouldn't even be an immigrant but rather a migrant worker.

During the migrant crisis I remember talking to my friends and mentioning that I too was an economic migrant in Europe.  They simply told me that I was the good kind of migrant.  Hmmm...  Yet I still remember that anti-imigrant flyer I received by Zeman supporters.

There are an estimated 6,32 million Americans and 4,7 million British expats living overseas.  I don't know about the British but the majority of Americans living abroad are in Canada and Mexico.

Qatar, the UAE, Kuwait, Jordan, and Singapore are the top five countries with the highest percentage of foreign workers based on their total populations.

Back in 2018, foreigners in here in Czechland made up about 4,7% of the population.  The top three groups coming from Ukraine, Slovakia, and Vietnam.  Brno was home to more than 30.000 foreigners from 150 countries.

In Brno there are around 40.000 Slovaks but I don't think that Czechs really consider Slovaks as foreigners.  For one thing, Slovaks do not have to register for residence like other EU citizens here on work contracts.  So skipping the Slovaks, the biggest groups of foreigners in Brno come from Ukraine, Russia, Vietnam, Romania, India, and Turkey.  All of the American expats are in Prague.

According to the "Brno Expat Survey" that was conducted in 2019 here are some details about the typical Brno expat.

I came to Czechland as an expat and ended up an immigrant.  Hopefully I'll get Czech citizenship and become an American Czech in Brno.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

IGA BBQ Reunion

Today one of my old teams got together for a BBQ picnic at Lužánky Park.  It was a very close team and even though some people have moved on to other teams and even moved on to other companies we still manage to get together pretty regularly.  Although Covid put a halt to that for a while.

We had about 20 people show up, with Jūlija even coming in from Prague to join us.

I do miss this cast of characters.  By far the best team that I ever had the pleasure of working with.  Even if I had to deal with all of the pranks.

When the date was first proposed I immediately remembered that today was the twentieth anniversary of 9/11.  That's one of those events that happens and you will forever remember what you were doing when it happened.  I still can't believe that it was 20 years ago.  I remember it like it was just yesterday.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021


In August, it was my 18th year with IBM and as of today I now work for Kyndryl.  IBM has spun off the infrastructure services business which included the division I worked for which was IBM Global Technology Services.

Kyndryl is an information technology services provider that designs, builds, manages and develops large-scale information systems worldwide.   

I never actually applied to work at IBM.  I worked for a Equifax which is one of the three US credit bureaus and I was outsourced to IBM.  Basically I was told one day that I was moving to IBM and I got rebadged.  I have to say that overall it worked out all right and it eventually led me to my life here in Czechland.  So I'm excited to see what happens with Kyndryl.

Here's a short video I found out on YouTube.


One question that people keep asking is what does Kyndryl mean?  It's basically a mix of "kinship" and "tendril" which symbolises new growth and working together.

The only drawback to the name is that in Czech it sounds like Kinedryl which, in Czechland and Slovakia, is a popular medicine for motion sickness.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Road Trip to Poland

This weekend was the first time I've left Czechland in over a year.  I was in Germany in July 2020 and since then I haven't left the country.  Not having left the country in a year is unbelievable especially considering I had planned on 20 countries in 2020.  But that's the way things shook out.

This weekend was a quick road trip, with Jitka and Geetha, to Wrocław, Poland.  Besides a being a quick getaway we went to visit our friend and colleague Arek.

Arek was a great tour guide.  Geetha had never been and it had been a many years since Jitka was there.  I've been there more times than I can count.

We had a great time just running around the city.  Of course, no visit to Wrocław is complete without checking out the dwarves.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Kitty Cake

Since Covid I've pretty much worked from home every day.  I rarely go to the office which means I'm home when my housekeeper comes every Tuesday morning.  We have our system where we stay out of each other's way while she's cleaning and I'm working.

Well today she surprised me with two slices of homemade cake that looks like a cat.  

It was a nice surprise but I'm trying to lose weight and cake isn't on the diet.  However, she did say that it was sugar-free.